As part of a series alongside Valentine’s Day, we’re featuring stories about UF couples, past and present, called “Findlay Faithfuls.” If you’re interested in sharing your story, we encourage you to share a picture using #FindlayFaithfuls and tag @oileralumni on Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram. We’d love to hear from you and re-share!
Of the many attributes that people look for in a partner, arguably the most important is that they have something in common. Similar interests clearly denote compatibility in most cases, and even the simplest of “coincidences” can be a springboard for love.
Even matching Halloween costumes.
Yes, when Perry ’16 and Tabitha (Lewis ‘16) Wagner first laid eyes on each other that fateful Halloween in 2014 at University of Findlay, the commonality they immediately saw was that they were both dressed as construction workers. “Perry came in through the back door of the house,” Tabitha said. “I rounded the corner from inside and saw him standing there in his construction costume and thought, ‘Wow, this guy is super cute and he is wearing the same costume as me.’” In her mind, Tabitha had no choice but to get a picture with him since they didn’t even know each other. Tabitha suggested that Perry take the picture and send it to her; that way, she would have his number. It was a clever move from Tabitha, one that served as the very first chapter of what is, so far, a nearly eight-year love story.
Before too long, the newly-established couple was moving through their student lives at UF, Perry attending college republican meetings and taking a heavy load of science classes as a Nuclear Medicine major, and Tabitha working toward a career in human resources, taking in business classes, cheerleading for UF, and pledging the Sigma Kappa sorority. Like many college students, their lives were busy, but they always made time for each other, studying together and regularly grabbing dinner from local establishments. In fact, the pair did nearly everything together throughout their Oiler experience, including graduating in the spring of 2019. “It’s something that we will cherish for the rest of our lives,” Tabitha said. “Graduating from college with your significant other and witnessing each other getting our diplomas after years of hard work is a very special experience.”
So, as it was doing things together that they were used to, it didn’t create any surprise or speculation for Tabitha when Perry asked her, some months later, to go with him to the Findlay Reservoir together to test out the motor on the family boat. He had an annual fishing tournament coming up the following week, he told her, and it would give them something to do outside. As one of the adjectives Tabitha uses to describe Perry is “ambitious,” she figured that he just wanted to make certain that he had every edge for the tournament, including sufficiently functioning transportation on the water. It was, however, a surprise when the actual question got popped. “I could tell that Perry was nervous, but I didn’t expect the proposal,” Tabitha said. “I was so surprised that I accidently knocked the ring out of his hand. Luckily, we were a safe distance from the reservoir. This all made it that much more special.”
Shortly thereafter, the soon-to-be Wagners began planning a wedding. They ran through the initial ideas that make up wedding planning – the “whos, whats, whens, wheres, and whys” – but, it was the “where” that jumped out at the pair so clearly. “We’re like-minded,” Perry explained. “We function as a team and often can read each other’s thoughts before they are verbalized.” So, it makes sense that they were both thinking the same thing in big, bold letters: on the campus of UF.
“We decided to get married at the College First Church of God,” Tabitha said. “It holds a special place in our hearts, and it was everything we could have wished for. UF’s ornate buildings and the beautiful landscape made a perfect backdrop for our pictures.”
Now, the Wagners are making their way through their book of love, adding chapters and even new characters as the story evolves. Perry, a Senior Health Physicist at the Ohio Department of
Health, and Tabitha, an Employee and Labor Relations Specialist at The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center, are developing their careers and living not far from UF. And, as they also now have daughter Halle in their lives, they’ve even taken on the role of parents. Their love for one another and their family has grown by leaps and bounds, and they’ve found so many more things in common since the day that their Halloween costumes provided a truly serendipitous ice breaker. “Perry and I have similar values regarding God, family, and friends,” Tabitha said. “He is generous, caring, respectful, supportive, and ambitious, and the list could go on. I love how we can be goofy together and make each other laugh. I am very blessed to have Perry in my life.”
“She is hardworking and is driven to be successful in everything she wants to achieve,” added Perry. “Tabitha is no doubt an irreplaceable piece in my life.”
It’s not lost on the couple that without their mutual choice to attend the same University to pursue a college education, they ultimately would not have been in the same place at the same time, choosing the same idea for their Halloween costumes, and later at the same place at the same time together on campus getting married. To that end, it’s a place they said they hold dear, and one they’ll certainly hold dear for the rest of their lives.