Boxer Love Story: John Holte '74, OD '75 and Nancy (Gall) Holte '77

Nancy’s trip to Pacific University for her sophomore year was not without incident.

It was 1974 and she was driving from southern California in her 1967 Ford Mustang.

“It was a cool car but by the time I arrived in Forest Grove I was ready to take a sledge hammer to it,” said Nancy.

The radiator was overheating every few hours.

Nancy’s parents were not about to let their “little girl” hit Interstate 5 unsupervised, so her mother made the long drive with her.

“No self-respecting 19-year-old would want her mommy on a road trip, but what could I do? Traveling alone was not an option. Of course, by the time the radiator overheated for the umpteenth time I was glad she was along.”

They made it to Oregon and the car suddenly went back to its normal self, never to repeat its lousy performance. Nancy arrived at Pacific University with a car full of receipts from various service stations and an extra radiator cap as a souvenir.

Nancy arrived back at Pacific excited about what the year had in store. She moved into Walter Hall anxious to see old friends and meet some new ones. Upon arrival she learned that Walter Hall, previously an all female dorm, would have men living on the third floor due to space issues on campus.

“Supposedly, they were the ‘studious’ upper classmen. Who knew this would change my life?”

After unpacking all of her "worldly possessions” from the trunk, getting her mother to the airport and setting up her dorm room, it was time to clean up the debris in the back seat. She grabbed all the receipts to toss in the trash and walked into the dorm lobby with her extra radiator cap.

“What does a person do with an extra radiator cap?”

John Holte was working at the front desk in Walter Hall at the time. He was a fourth year optometry student who she'd met once the previous year through mutual friends. It turned out he was the new Resident Assistant on the third floor. Nancy stopped to say hi on her way through the lobby and jokingly said, "Hey, you don't want a radiator cap, do you?" It was headed for the garbage but she thought maybe a guy would have some reason to keep one. John's response had her in hysterics. "Oh no," he said, "You don't want to throw that away, there are so many ways you could use it." John continued, "You could use it as a paperweight, or to make a mobile." There were other intriguing suggestions proposed that day though Nancy can't recall them all now. All she remember thinking was "this guy is so funny! How does he come up with this stuff?"

A few days passed, classes started and the studying began. It seemed that her pursuit of academic excellence left her with a plethora of pages to read every night. The problem was that as she’d start to read her eyes would get sore after a few pages, leaving her to struggle through the rest of homework. The fact that she was attending college on the very grounds of an optometry school had not escaped her. Neither had the fact that the funny guy at the front desk was an optometry student and lived right upstairs. And, did she mention he wasn't bad looking either? Never mind that she knew plenty of other optometry students; she was sure John was the brightest and best of them all and would know just how to deal with her difficult eyes. 

“How does one go about asking a guy for an eye consultation?” said Nancy.

John wasn't scheduled to work at the front desk anytime soon so Nancy was forced to just go and knock on his door. After discussing the eye situation, John invited her to a concert coming up on the weekend. She had no idea what kind of concert it was and was never a big fan of loud, rock music so she was a “wee bit” scared to say yes. But, it would, after all, give her the opportunity to get to know him better and as she mentioned, he was kind of cute, and funny.

“I was thrilled to find out that the concert was actually in downtown Portland and featured John Denver, an up and coming star at the time,” said Nancy.

Nancy said she wasn’t sure if she was more excited about; a date with John Holte or the John Denver concert. Their date went well and Nancy was confident they'd be going out again.

“Then ... nothing. Not a phone call, no note, absolutely nothing for over a week. Now what? To make matters worse, I still had sore eyes and wasn't sure how to proceed with that issue either.”

In the middle of the second week, John finally called. From that point on they spent time together nearly every day. Nancy got her eyes examined. John showed her his thesis work. They studied and talked. Looking back, Nancy said she must have done most of the talking because John is really a pretty quiet guy.

A mere six weeks had passed when they started talking about plans for the following year. John was going to graduate in May. That left the couple wondering how they’d pursue this budding relationship.

“It still sounds crazy when I say it, but that night, as we discussed what the future would bring, we got engaged.”

Were they nuts to get engaged six weeks into a relationship, Nancy wondered? Yes, probably she said, but they were smart enough not to mention it to another soul until December. And, she must admit, it wasn't the romantic type of proposal of which movie scripts are made, but “the very idea of being without John was more than my heart could bear.”

 They got married ten months later and on Aug. 9, 2016, they will celebrate their 41st wedding anniversary.

“Would I recommend this kind of whirlwind courtship to anyone? Not on your life! Marriage, it turns out, is hard work. Who knew? But, we're still in love, enjoying life together, and, best of all, John still makes me laugh.”

Read more Boxer love stories at pacificu.edu/lovestory

Feb. 14, 2014