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!
In the summer of 1983, when University of Findlay Athletic Hall of Fame and Board of Trustee member Brian Washington ’84 was headed into his senior year at what was then known as Findlay College, his mother told him that he would meet a young lady who would have his nose wide open. That meant, he explained, that he was going to be blinded by love. “I told her that wasn’t going to happen,” Brian recalled. “I said I’m going to finish school, work on my career, and not get married until I’m 35.”
When he returned to campus that fall and saw a young freshman student who had just arrived on campus for the very first time, however, his mother’s prophetic words seemed not only possible for Brian, but highly likely.
Brian saw Carol (Price ’89) Washington from across the floor at a student welcome dance and knew immediately he needed to ask her to dance. Having the confidence to do so wasn’t a problem for him. He was a popular Oiler football player and a senior, and his student job in the admissions office made it even more possible for him to know pretty much everyone there was to know on campus. “I was sort of a big man on campus, actually,” Brian explained. “But, see, she didn’t know that because she had just gotten here.” Brian was so confident, in fact, that he told a teammate standing next to him that he could marry Carol. But the fact that she wasn’t familiar with him and his grand reputation didn’t help his quest, at least in this initial instance.
“He asked me to dance and we danced for one song. He asked me to keep dancing and I said no, and walked off the dance floor,” Carol said. In fairness, it was because a song came on that she didn’t care for, yet even though she explained that to Brian, it didn’t help his ego much.
Still, he pursued, putting in the work to make sure she noticed him with every opportunity he had. There was another get-together on campus later in the year in the form of a fraternity party, where the pair made arrangements to meet. Brian, true to his image, began making his rounds around the fraternity house, letting everyone know of his presence in the way he did it best. “Oh, he was talking to everyone and had a comment about everything,” Carol said. “’Mr. Know-it-All’ is what he was.” But she liked him. So much so that when her mother called and asked how it was going, she told her she met a guy who “gets on her nerves because he thinks he knows everything.” Carol’s mother, in a prescient way not entirely unlike what Brian’s mother had told him that previous summer, said, “that’ll be the man you marry.” It was hard to rebuff what not one, but two mothers predicted, and it was equally difficult to deny Brian’s consistent pursuit. “He was always attempting to interact with me and trying to do the things that were happening on campus together,” she added.
Yet Carol still wasn’t sure. After spending most of their college time in one another’s company (When Brian graduated, in part because of a “certain girl he was smitten by,” he took a job as a full-time admissions counselor at Findlay, thus securing more time in Carol’s presence.), before one summer break, Brian asked her to be his official girlfriend, but Carol wasn’t sure. Since she was trying to finish up her own college career, she wasn’t certain whether she should commit to one person; and, she wasn’t sure if Brian was really as into her as he purported to be. So, she did what she thought she needed to do to sort it out: she declined his invitation. In attempting to call her bluff, though, Brian, ready to move up and around in his career endeavors, rose to the occasion, applying for and accepting a full-time job at Kent State University. “When that happened,” Carol recalled, fondly, “I thought, ‘Oh shoot!’ But he didn’t need to know that at the time!”
That summer, Brian got multiple phone calls from Carol back at her home in Cleveland Heights, ultimately leading to her asking if he’d like to spend some time together before he left for Kent. As a result, the couple spent the summer together exploring the city of Cleveland, taking long walks in parks and along the lake, attending concerts, trying different restaurants, and taking in the many sights and sounds of downtown. Eventually, as the summer was winding down and he was taking her home to her parents’ home in Cleveland Heights to get ready to go back to Findlay, Carol asked Brian if they could try and make a long-distance relationship work. Of course, Brian didn’t think twice and committed to doing just that. It wasn’t, however, an easy road. “You have to understand,” he explained, “there weren’t any cell phones; there wasn’t any email. It was very expensive with the long-distance phone calls. She always called collect and we’d be on the phone for hours.”
The pair did the work needed to stay together, and, for a period of six years that included Carol graduating and moving back to the area of her home and Brian giving her a “promise ring,” the couple dated, until Brian got and gave her an official diamond engagement ring and asked for her hand, to which she agreed. After, as Carol had landed a job with a telecommunications company in Hudson, Ohio – close to Kent, where Brian was – the pair got an apartment together in the area. They thought it would be wrong for to live together without being married, though, so they decided to go to the local Justice of the Peace on January 11 and get married.
There was one “problem,” though: they had already set a date for a church wedding for that September 2. “The only ones we told about the courthouse wedding before the ‘real’ wedding for those several months was my pastor and my grandmother,” Brian said. “We kept it to ourselves all that time.”
So, for the subsequent past 33 years of marriage, the Washingtons have gotten to enjoy two anniversaries. Carol gets either flowers or a card for the January date alone, year after year. It’s a testament to the love that the couple, who are also the parents of children Jamar and Jasmine, have for each other. Carol realized long ago that she really liked “Mr. Know-it-All” all along. “That was, and is, actually, one of the things I’ve always liked about him,” she said. “Even though he was annoying at first when we met at Findlay College, he’s always shown interest in so many things and he’s always trying to expand his knowledge. I remember thinking that if he’s that kind and caring to our future children as he was to me and everyone else, he would be a great husband and father.”
“That first day that my mom met her,” Brian said, “she knew exactly. She said I always had a sparkle in my eye when Carol was around. I knew something was weird and different back in those Findlay College days, because I was doing things I’d never regularly do and I couldn’t explain the reason why I was doing them, exactly.”
The lesson here? When mothers know, they know. All you have to do is ask long-time Findlay Faithfuls Brian and Carol Washington about that.