Against All Odds

Bob and Mary (Kelly) Watson’s courtship may have been a classic storybook tale — except for unexpected twists and turns along the way.

The Movie

“Breaking Away” brought them together. Sort of. Bob and Mary saw the film on campus. They shared the experience but not exactly together. Bob, sitting several rows behind Mary, had seen the hit film already, and he proceeded to loudly discuss upcoming scenes. “I was really annoyed that someone was talking about the movie’s events before they had happened,” Mary remembers. “He likes to do that. It’s really annoying.”

The Fall

Early in their relationship, Mary attended
a party at the Hut, in the Desmond Hall basement. It was a dark basement. Treacherously dark. “There was a depression in the floor.
I fell, and my ankle did a full 360. I couldn’t get up. I crawled to a phone and called Bob, and he carried me across campus to Tendrich.”

The Scholarship

During his sophomore year, Bob, a rugby player, learned his father’s cancer diagnosis might force him to leave LMU for lack of funds. But a Jesuit intervention kept Bob on campus. “Somehow,” Mary recalls, “[the Jesuits] cooked up a scholarship for students who played rugby and had a parent diagnosed with cancer.” That may have saved their future marriage, as well as Bob’s degree. “I don’t know if we would’ve gotten married,” says Mary, “because our relationship wasn’t strong enough at that point.” Later, she and Bob realized the offer wasn’t a scholarship but an act of great generosity.

The Wedding

Bob and Mary had hoped to get married in Sacred Heart Chapel shortly after graduation. But with the 1984 Summer Olympics turning Los Angeles into a madhouse, they delayed their wedding until September. Finally Sept. 8, 1984, arrived, a day to remember. It was a warm summer day. In fact, very warm: 108 degrees warm, the hottest Sept. 8th on record up till then, and since. They left the un-air-conditioned chapel, passed through that year’s annual Alumni BBQ and made their way to the off-campus un-air-conditioned reception, where their wedding cake collapsed in the heat. But the marriage, now 31-years strong, was built on a solid foundation. It still stands.