Finding a Way: Findlay Faithfuls Chris ’97 and Angela (Kangas) ‘99 Peterson
As part of a week-long series alongside Valentine’s Day, we’re featuring stories about UF couples, past and present, called “Findlay Faithfuls.” Did you meet the love of your life on campus? We want to hear about it! Share your story via Facebook or Twitter using #IHeartUFindlay #FindlayFaithfuls.
Life is full of curveballs.
There are expectations of how things should roll out, and this doesn’t change once one gets accepted into a life at college. The standard plan is, among other things, to study hard, blossom socially, and learn a thing or two about ourselves as we move through the four or more years it takes to secure a degree. More often than not, however, obstacles occur, sometimes in the form of great blessings for the future.
Chris and Angela (Kangas) Peterson met during his junior and her freshman year at University of Findlay in the late 1990s. The pair fell for each other and spent that school year, from Homecoming to spring finals, seeing each other regularly. It was, at its base, your garden variety young love, until it was time to head home for the summer. “The night before I left for home in Minnesota, I found out I was pregnant,” Angela said. “I went home for break and had an amazing internship set up within my major in Environmental and Hazardous Materials Management, but within a few weeks I got really sick from the pregnancy and ended up in the hospital.” As the summer wore on, however, Angela began to feel better, and returned to UF for the fall semester.
The couple’s baby boy was due over Christmas break, but, in keeping with the “life-doesn’t go-as-planned” philosophy, he didn’t exactly make it easy for the pair. “Labor did not progress quickly,” Angela said. “It took Tre three days to appear. Chris even had time to go back to class to take an exam, and when his professor asked how I was doing when he found out I was in the hospital in labor, he made Chris head back.”
Amazingly, Angela had Tre on a Wednesday evening and returned to classes the next week. Both she and Chris knew the difficulties they faced. They also knew, though, that success would come with hard work and dedication, both to each other and to their baby.
So, they found a way.
Chris would watch Tre while Angela was in class and her mother came for two weeks to help out. Friends and additional family pitched in. Eventually, however, Chris graduated and moved to Cleveland to begin a job providing for his little family; without his immediate help, Angela faced a new challenge. The UF community, however, was up to it. “Tre had a lot of great babysitters while I was in class,” she remembered. “Friends even loved bringing Tre to the student union to hang out.” There were also a few instances where someone got sick and Angela needed to bring Tre to class. “My professors were so accommodating and welcoming. Luckily, [early on] I was in the honors fraternity and was able to take a huge load of classes my freshman year which allowed me to take a lighter load the next few years. I graduated on time with honors and two degrees, Tre and I moved to Youngstown, Ohio with Chris where I completed my masters in math.”
The couple were married in Findlay in the summer of 2000 with friends, family, and, according to Angela, quite a few UF professors and staff members in attendance. “I was especially touched to have them as guests,” she said.
Now, after adding two additional sons to the family, Tamar and Ty, and pushing through a few more detours in life – Chris spent almost two years of uncertain time in the service on active duty in Iraq in the years after 9/11, (“We realized we could live without each other for a year and a half, but also that we didn’t want to live without each other ever again,” Angela said.), son Tamar’s health scare, spending four weeks in an ICU and having surgery after a burst aneurysm due to Arteriovenous Malformation (AVM), a tangle of abnormal and poorly formed blood vessels in the brain, and youngest son Ty’s Type 1 Diabetes diagnosis – the family that began at UF recently came full circle, visiting campus this past fall for the Homecoming vow renewal and a “walk down memory lane,” that included taking their boys to Henderson Dining Hall on campus.
As it turns out, the Peterson family is living proof that life’s curveballs, when the support and love of a UF campus community comes together, can eventually turn into home runs.