Love Charging Through
Over the years, Colby-Sawyer College has welcomed many faculty and staff couples. Some see each throughout the week. Some meet for lunch every day. Some cross paths once in a while. The following CSC couples sat down with us to share their stories of love, and how they consider the college an integral part of both their professional and personal lives.
Pete and Karin Berthiaume
On a blustery day in January of 1993, current Assistant Director of Residential Education Karin Berthiaume held the title of area coordinator, and Pete Berthiaume had just entered the Colby-Sawyer scene as the newly instated director of campus safety.
“He was cute,” Karin said, admitting her first impression of Pete.
“It was a long time ago,” Pete countered.
Karin and Pete occasionally enjoyed unofficial lunch dates in the dining hall. One day, they broadened their horizons and had their first off-campus lunch at Peter Christian’s Tavern, where for once, they talked less about their jobs and more about each other, returning to campus well past the allotted hour-long break. Later that same day, Karin answered the phone to receive news of a car accident involving a handful of CSC students who had been rushed to Valley Regional Hospital in Claremont, N.H.
The sun was setting on a town buried in snow, frozen twice-over — Karin was bent on being there for her residents, but fearful she wouldn’t be able to make it through the snow. She raced to the first person she thought of: Pete Berthiaume, and the two bundled into his car for a tumultuous drive. After all the anxious waiting, when they were admitted to see the students and realized they would all be okay, Karin turned to Pete and gave him her best bear hug.
By the end of 1993, Karin and Pete married. After nearly 27 years, they still enjoy lunch together every day and look forward to collaborating during resident assistant training. Each morning as they finish up feeding their menagerie of farm animals (a horse, four sheep, a bunny, 10 chickens, a rooster, three dogs, and a cat), their farewell before work is always, “I’ll see you at lunch.”
Eric Boyer and Erica Webb
Director of Student Success and Retention Erica Webb and Associate Professor for the School of Business & Social Sciences Eric Boyer may not own any pets, but they still have a menagerie of their own: an infant, a toddler, and a middle-schooler (8-months, 4, and 11, respectively). It was quite understandable when Erica reached out to schedule an interview on a Sunday, as that was the only time she and Eric could be found in the same place for longer than it takes to exchange a baby.
This past year, Eric and Erica have been playing hot potato with their youngest of three sons, Wesley, as one of them was on baby duty in the morning, completing the hand-off to move onto work in the evening, and vice versa. It’s safe to say (and they both did) that these parents are looking forward to next year when Wes is old enough to attend Windy Hill, the privilege of which Erica and Eric refer to as, “One of the single-best things about working at Colby-Sawyer.”
Long before they were parents, Eric and Erica were undergraduates together at Indiana University of Pennsylvania, accepted into the same program, and thus, living in the same building, only one floor apart. Their group of friends intersected, and Eric persisted in growing closer to Erica, who eventually caved, dumping her old boyfriend for Boyer. They moved to Minnesota together so Eric could pursue his graduate degree, tying the knot soon after, then trekking over to New Hampshire, one of the few places Eric was offered a teaching position at the time.
Erica didn’t realize how hard it would be for her husband to find a job. When he told her he would go wherever a job was offered, she remarked, “I did not sign up for this.”
Luckily, things turned out for the best. A year after Eric started teaching, Erica found a career at Colby-Sawyer as well, shuffling from one department to the next until landing her current position (sociology adjunct to library research consultant to grant project collaborator, and finally to retention and success). Colby-Sawyer has since wriggled its way into their lives, allowing them to collaborate during Erica’s summer program, Summit Scholars, all three of their kids growing accustomed to campus, and their toddler declaring presidential candidate Pete Buttigieg as his best friend. Although Eric claims, “We were interesting once, not anymore,” Eric and Erica are beekeepers of approximately 60,000 bees, who produce delicious honey, and unforgettable stories, which the couple will warmly invite you over their house to describe together.
Bill and Pam Spear
Another notable CSC couple is Pam Spear, director of Baird Health and Counseling Center, and Bill Spear, associate professor for the School of Business & Social Sciences, who met while working together almost 40 years ago.
“We’ve always worked together,” said Bill.
During their first job together, Bill was assigned to train Pam. The two of them worked closely together, Bill drawn in by Pam’s driven, determined demeanor, Pam by Bill’s intelligence and attention to detail. Bill called upon stories of Pam impressing their manager with her quiet leadership and convincing the inner-circle of another occupation with her detailed evidence and confidence. Their feelings for each other were confirmed when Pam missed a week of work due to sickness, leading her and Bill to realize how much they missed one another’s company.
When the Spears nestled into New London over a decade ago, Pam spent the first year building their house as her full-time job. She explained how Bill would arrive at the house and get to work wiring the electricity and adjust Pam’s work to perfection. Bill admits to his extreme curiosity and obsessive compulsive nature, as evidenced by the well-organized layout of his office.
In describing themselves, Bill said, “Pam’s a cook, I’m a baker; I’m looking with a microscope, she’s looking with a telescope.”
Indeed, Pam revealed that Bill always has to measure each ingredient when they cook together while Pam focuses on the big picture. It’s clear the Spears balance each other well. They find that this translates to the workplace, noting that the more two people know about each other’s jobs, the more they’ll benefit the organization.
Bill, along with his coworkers in the business administration department, always know to point struggling students to Pam for help. Together, the Spears have served as a Friendship Family and host to many international students from Colby-Sawyer and refer to themselves as protective parents with thousands of students to keep an eye on. In addition, Bill and Pam have three kids and five grandchildren of their own.
Pam said, “So you can tell, we like each other.”
Ken and Cheryl Lawson
Cheryl Lawson doubles as excursion manager for Parkhurst Dining Services and business administration student. She started working at Colby-Sawyer a decade ago, tacked on the role of student in 2012, and expects to receive her degree in the spring of 2021. Just barely exceeding her relationship with CSC is her marriage to Ken Lawson, part-time van driver and front desk attendant at the Hogan Sports Center as of the summer of 2018.
The spark ignited almost 13 years ago when Ken invited Cheryl to his annual Fourth of July fireworks display. They knew each other as friends, but Ken spotted her on Match.com — confirmation that she was available. As the enormous streaks of light bloomed and boomed across the night sky, the bond between Cheryl and Ken blossomed as well.
Although their jobs only overlap in the summer during Gordon Research Conferences (GRC), Ken and Cheryl both cherish the lively college atmosphere and relationships they make with students. Every year, they invite international students to Thanksgiving dinner at their house, glad to provide them food and company during the holiday break.
Another passion Cheryl and Ken share is baseball. They always carve out time to catch Red Sox games and even visited seven different baseball fields in the Midwest on a 4,000 mile, two-week long road trip a few years back.
“I feel very secure with him, very confident in his love for me. He usually waits for me at night and gives me a big, warm hug,” Cheryl said.
The Lawsons enjoy spending time together and cuddling up with their two cats. Ken and Cheryl reveal that, as two people with calm dispositions, they never fight; they accept each other’s mistakes, recognizing that nobody can achieve perfection.
Ken added that Colby-Sawyer has brought them even closer together. Now, they are able to share in the relationships, work, and events the college has to offer, and Ken is able to truly watch his wife earn her degree.
“We just have tremendous affection for each other,” Cheryl confirmed.