As part of a 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.
It’s not every day that a blind date results in the successful joining together of two unknowing, yet alarmingly compatible hearts, simply based on a hunch. For Bret ’99 and Annette ’00 Bahn, Findlay Faithfuls who started on a blind date, the real magic is found in how far they’ve come since.
When Bret, who Annette affectionately calls “Doc,” – his call sign during his time in the military – was at Riverdale High School in Mt. Blanchard, Ohio, and Annette at the former St. Wendelin High School in Fostoria, both schools about as near to Findlay as each other, yet in opposite directions, they didn’t spend time looking for love. Annette was happy studying and being with friends, and Bret was busy with academics and playing football. In fact, it was football that, in a way, led to what Annette calls the “mostly blind” date. “I had gone to the Hardin County Preview, a local football showcase, with a friend who was a lifelong friend of Bret,” she said. “He happened to catch a quick glimpse of me walking with our friend, and asked her who the girl was that she was with, and she set us up on the date.”
Not too long after that first date, Annette said, the pair became more or less inseparable, so much so that they both ended up at UF, Bret coming to study Biology and kick for legendary Oiler football coach Dick Strahm and the Oiler football team, and Annette arriving to campus to indulge her love of literature. Their time at UF, the couple said, prepared them well for the business of life that would come rushing at them later. They stayed busy, Bret as a student-athlete, and Annette cheering him on at every home game and many away games. Both dove hard into academics and worked full-time while going to school, and “through it all,” Annette said proudly, “Bret upheld his 4.0 GPA with his rigorous class schedule as he was preparing to go to medical school.” The two moved through college this way – busily and happily – counting their familiarity of the area as a boon to their lives. “Because we were both local,” Annette said, “we spent a lot of time with our high school friends, but we also met and forged lasting college friendships as well.” This included current UF Board of Trustee member Brant Rhoad, who ended up as a groomsman in the couple’s wedding a few years later.
As he was trying to get a job and save money for graduate school Bret took an overload and graduated summa cum laude from UF early with a biology degree in 1999; they were married during that year, and Annette graduated with a bachelor’s degree in English Literature in 2000. Then, the pair’s “real world” life really began to take off.
And take off, it did.
The whirlwind of activity over the course of the next few years included Bret attending what was then known as Medical College of Ohio (now The University of Toledo Medical School), and during that time, in 2003, the Bahns welcoming their first son, Gannon. Bret graduated from medical school, joined the United States Navy, completed his internship year at the Naval hospital in Portsmouth, Virginia. Then another child, daughter Lainey, in 2005. Next, the family moved to Florida for nine months, for Bret’s flight training, before he deployed twice with his Marine Corps squadron in support of Operation Enduring Freedom. Tanner, their second son, was born in 2007. Following his service, Bret completed his Anesthesia residency at the University of Michigan, and Annette gave birth to the Bahns’ fourth child, Cooper, in 2010. Following his residency, Bret completed his Interventional Pain Fellowship at Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, MD.
After moving to California, where Bret went into private practice, “a series of events began to unfold” that finally brought the Bahns back to Findlay, where they felt like they truly belong. “Both of our families still live here, and with four children, we thought it was time to plant our feet firmly on the ground and let the roots grow deep, since we’d moved so frequently through all of the other states.” Annette said.
Through all of the busyness; after all of the uncertainty of the moving, the medical and military training for Bret; after all of the worries about that life for her husband, and the dedication to family and parenthood from both, they are home, on the other end of the unpredictability that a time of constant uprooting brings. They’re still busy, but certainly more settled into the life and love they planned for themselves from their youth. According to them, it’s a beautiful place to be.
The Bahns’ strength, both as individuals and as husband and wife, come from each other, and from the midwestern roots they developed, in part, on the practice fields, in the classrooms, and on all campus corners of University of Findlay. And they did it together. Annette says that the dedication, tenacity, and work ethic that Bret displays are his strongest attributes. “Those qualities that drew me to him so many years ago are still alive and strong and set the best example for our kids that I could ask for,” she said. “His compassion for his patients is unparalleled and coupled with his vast medical knowledge, make him someone I admire on a professional level, above and beyond his role as my husband and the father of our four children.”
And, the feeling is more than mutual, according to “Doc” Bret. “My love for Annette is a result of her ability to drop everything to help anyone in need. She does this often, not only for me and our children, but for friends and even strangers if they are in need,” he said.
The Bahns were both quick to say that they believe their time together at UF was nothing short of instrumental in laying the groundwork for them, not only in their professional lives, but their personal ones as well, and that they’re at their best right here where it all began. “We are thankful to be back where we began, where the roots were started, and then replanted so many miles, states, and years later. We’ve continued to learn about ourselves and each other daily since our blind date many years ago. While it hasn’t always been easy, we’ve made each other a priority through it all,” said Annette.