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A Closer Look

10 Janesville Love Stories

First Encounters, Admiration and

The Secrets to Lasting Love

Interviews by Teresa Nguyen

February, 2021

Be patient with each other. Tell each other when something's bothering you. Make your spouse feel special, even if it's something small every day. 

~ Chris Piccione

George and Shirley Barlass

George and Shirley Barlass have been involved in farming and 4-H all their lives and have raised their family in rural Rock County. Their love began in the early 1950s at the 4-H Fair.
 
Throughout his life, George traveled extensively as a 4-H judge and their home is filled with numerous and amazing trophies.
 
The couple even visited with Queen Elizabeth in England and were granted entry to visit her jerseys! Then, in a dream come true, George got to go to Jersey Island. He continued to travel and judge for many years.

The couple have been Married 67years!

In this short, adorable clip, the Barlasses describe their early encounter at the fair. Shirley talks about how he "stole" the one trophy she was so ready to receive! They were just teenagers, both competing against each other.
 
If you watch their faces, their smiles, you can see the sparks in their eyes as they remember first meeting each other.
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Shirley and George on their wedding day
George and Shirley Barlass
David and Kathy Bitter

(As told by David and Kathy)

David: We met as sophomores in 1973 doing theater and music at Craig High School. We may even have met as grade-schoolers playing at Adams park in the summers! 

Kathy: We were in our first musical at age 15. He saw me sing my first choir solo that December. He told the girl next to him, "I am going to marry that girl someday!”
 
David: I was hooked from the minute I saw her. And when I heard her sing, I just knew we’d be together!  She was beautiful, sweet and so kind to me during a tough year for both of us when we met.

Kathy: I believe God brought us together just before my father died that April. My choir director asked if I would be willing to sing a duet for the Solo and Ensemble contest that spring. I said yes and it was with David. We have since sung together for numerous weddings. 

We were partners in the Craig Spotlighters the next year and then were “married” in the musical Brigadoon. We had the leads in Girl Crazy our senior year. It was very romantic. I was the only person he trusted with his guitar. 

He had the most beautiful smile and was the all-American boy my dad would have approved of. I could tell him anything and I was always proud to introduce David to anyone.
David: We continued dating for seven years, including through college. We even kept the relationship going while living apart for two years. 
David and Kathy on the high school stage
We were married in 1981. It’s been almost 40 years!

What David Appreciates about Kathy
  • I’ve always appreciated her ability to love people and her desire to help them all. 
  • She has a great sense of humor and the patience to deal with me and mine!
  • Kathy has been an amazing mother and example for our three children!

What Kathy Appreciates about David
  • He’s handsome, smart, honest, hardworking and a loving father. 
  • David is a talented musician and actor.
  • David has always looked at me like I was 16 years old and 115 pounds!  He is openly crazy about me still, even when I drive him crazy. 
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David and Kathy on their wedding day
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Secrets to Lasting Love
 
David: We were best friends long before we were married, and have remained so throughout our 47-year journey. This type of relationship is most important in a marriage. 
 
Not everything is going to go smoothly and perfectly in any friendship or marriage, but working together to make a life and a family is worth overcoming any issues along the way!

Kathy: Always put the other person first. Remember what brought you together. Have a good sense of humor. I can still tell him anything and he supports me no matter what. 
Kathy and David Bitter
Fred Shahlapour and Jaleh Dabiri

(As told by Jaleh)

We met at a family party in California. Fred had been living in Chicago and was visiting his high school classmate’s family in California. That family, they were my relatives.

Honestly, we were simply introduced, we shook hands and that was it! The following day, he called me and said he wanted to have coffee with me. I told him, 

“You’re too far from me, but if you want to drive two hours, I’m here at work. I go to lunch at 12.”
 
But he couldn’t make it at noon, so he showed up at five and we had dinner together.
Purple Flowers
 
We had known each other for only three days when he asked me to marry him! I said, “Yes!” I don’t even buy shoes that fast, I don’t know what happened! I’m not that kind of person. Everything I do in life takes me a while to decide. I certainly wouldn’t advise doing what we did. But there are no rules to finding a mutual love…no right way or wrong way.

We’ve been married for 29 years!

What Fred Appreciates about Jaleh
  • Jaleh is a sweetheart. She’s truly a good person, so special. She’s a wonderful friend and mother to our daughter, Minaliza. I’ve known her almost 30 years and she cares deeply.
  • She’s always so honest and is so kind toward me and toward other people. She amazes me with her behavior.
  • She has an extremely good heart and is forgiving when I make mistakes.
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Jaleh and Fred on their wedding day
Jaleh Dabiri and Fred Shahlapour
What Jaleh appreciates about Fred
  • Fred is always very lively, fun and is a positive person. I love how he appreciates the little things.
  • He is honest and transparent.
  • He loves his family and has a big heart. When he comes home, he rushes in, but when he leaves, he goes slowly. I love that about him and I look forward to seeing that. He wants to come to me first thing.
Secrets to Lasting Love

Jaleh: We talk things over. I think we’re both committed to work on it. It’s not like we have a perfect marriage or we don’t have anything to argue about. It’s day to day, but you have to have this intention to keep the family together. We’re both silly and funny, kind of crazy. We make things fun. Always love your family. We’ve learned from each other. 
Fred: I think it’s important and essential to be caring and honest with each other. Be sensitive with each other and understanding. Love and comfort each other. 
Jaleh and I come from different areas of Iran, so we were raised differently. When you come from different backgrounds or subcultures, as we do, don’t try to put one above the other, but embrace each other’s family. Treat them as you would want your family to be treated. By respecting your in-laws, you respect each other. 

If you have children, you have to try hard and be good parents together, as a team, in order to be successful.
Ron and Margaret Delaney

(As told by Margaret)

I went to UW Whitewater to become a teacher. In between the first and second year, I met Ron. We met at the Unemployment/Employment office here in Janesville. It was 1966 and Ron had just finished serving in the Navy for 4 years, so he had to come in looking for a job as an electrician. I took his information to get things started. 

Soon after, he asked me to go for a boat ride on the Rock River (in his parents’ boat). 

We were married at Cargill United Methodist Church and celebrated our 53rd Anniversary this year!
 
Ron and Margaret Delaney
What Ron appreciates about Margaret
  • I appreciate Margaret doing her job 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. She has been a wonderful wife for 53 years! 
  • She is a good mother to our two children and their spouses and is a terrific grandmother to our grandchildren. 
  • I appreciate how she has spent so much of her time doing volunteer work for others.
What Margaret appreciates about Ron
  • Ron has been such a good provider for us and our retirement. 
  • He is a great handyman who can fix many things around the house. 
  • He is a good father to our two children and their spouses and is a wonderful grandfather to our grandchildren.
Secrets to Lasting Love

During your married life there will be good and bad days. Remember to focus on the good days and not dwell on the bad days. The statement, never go to bed angry, is a very good rule to remember. 

If you make it to retirement years together, remember to spend some of your savings toward making memories for yourselves. If you have children remember to take the time to make good memories with them, too.
Alan and Betty Dunwiddie 

Alan and Betty met while working Merchants and Savings Bank in downtown Janesville, where Alan would later become Bank President. He was interested in dating a different girl and thought Betty could help him achieve the goal. But Alan’s luck was about to get even better!

In this video/audio clip, Alan and Betty tell this funny and romantic story about how their love first began.
 
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Alan and Betty Dunwiddie

Appreciation 

Alan: She’s a good cook.

Betty: He’s been a good provider.

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Secrets to Lasting Love
 
Alan: Try not to get mad at the same time! Can you imagine her mad? And go for walks. When you’re walking together, just being side by side, you’re not confronting each other. 

Betty: During our married life, we did a series of things with friends. We did square dancing, went cross country skiing in winter and canoeing in the summer. We did a lot of walking, and that’s a tip for all couples out there. Sometimes when you’re out walking, and the weather is just right, you see different things. It’s a time to just have fun, where you can relax and the conversation flows. 
 
The Dunwiddies have been married nearly 70 years!
Merchants and Savings Bank Clock in the 1950s - Janesville, WI
Connie's painting of her art gallery sho
 
Connie's painting of her art studio in Door County
Mike and Connie Glowacki

Mike: I was ahead of her through school, but never knew her. She was on the honor roll…the smart girl. I was the working guy. We lived only about four blocks apart. It was my second year at Whitewater and her first year and we didn’t go home one of the weekends.

The sign in the dorm said, “Square Dancing at Lucy Baker Hall…and food!” So, those of us at the men’s dorm went over for food and dancing. After square dancing, we danced to the music of Johnny Mathis. And that was it! She kind of chose me. 

Connie: Oh, I think it was mutual. Then we found out that we had so many things in common.
Mike: Later, in 1983, I quit teaching to join Connie and her art business.
 
Connie: We have been married now for 57 years!

 

What Mike Appreciates about Connie

  • I see her as being beautiful in many ways.

  • I know that she is there for me when I need help.

  • Connie values my judgement when big decisions arise. She’s my “‘fine tuner”.

What Connie Appreciates about Mike

  • He lives his life with integrity.

  • His knowledge fills the open spaces in mine.

  • Mike supports my love of the fine arts.

Secrets to Lasting Love


It’s important that we work together as a team, understanding each other’s needs and differences.

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Connie and Mike Glowacki
Alan and Marsha Mood

(As told by Marsha)

Back in 1973, one of my coworkers at Glen Oaks told me about a really nice swim coach, named Alan Mood, down at the YMCA. My friend encouraged me to see him. So, before we went on our blind date, I went to take a look at him from the balcony at the Y.
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I thought to myself, “Oh, he’s pretty cute.” We had our first date and were married six months later!
We’ve been married for almost 47 years. The time flew by so fast! 

What Marsha Appreciates about Alan
  • I appreciate his intelligence.
  • He has a wonderful sense of humor.
  • I appreciate Alan’s love for his family.
What Alan appreciates about Marsha
  • I appreciate how Marsha is such a caring individual.
  • I like how Marsha is not into makeup, perfume, or other beauty products.
  • She has put up with me for all these years. (Marsha: I told you he has a sense of humor!) 
Alan and Marsha
Secrets to Lasting Love

What has worked for us all these years is not taking each other too seriously and accepting our differences and faults, because we both have them. 
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Photo by Marsha Mood Photography
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Marsha and Alan Mood
Larry and Mary Mueller

(As told by Mary)

The families knew each other, the Muellers and the Conners, and when I would drive, we’d call up the Muellers to see if they’d want to ride along to school functions. We’d stop by and pick up his younger siblings. 

Then, one day, when I was in high school, Larry’s sister said, “That’s my brother Lawrence.” And I asked, “Who’s Lawrence?” because Larry is from a family of fourteen! He was standing on the steps and caught my eye. Then I said, “Well…you just say hi to Lawrence!” 

Years later, my mom and dad took my grandparents to Chicago for a trip and wanted to make sure that if there were any mechanical problems on the farm, while we kids were doing chores, that we would call the Muellers. My parents asked, “Would Lawrence mind checking in if there would be any problem?” His family always called him Lawrence. 

At the time, I was a senior in high school. Larry said that he would stop by and, that day, I happened to be cooking a big supper for everybody. That was probably when it all started.
 
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Years later, after I graduated, I wrote a letter to him. Larry had said, “I don’t want any cobwebs in the mailbox”. So, I wrote him a card at Thanksgiving time. I added a “p.s. No cobwebs in the mailbox.” That gave Larry permission to write back. Then, he asked me out!

Our first date was February 23rd and were married in July! 

It will be 45 years this summer! He is still my best friend. Larry would write to me, “I love you as you are, for what you are, for who you are, for what we can become together.” 

What Mary appreciates about Larry
  • I appreciate Larry’s gentleness and kindness; he is faithful and wonderful to his family and as a grandpa.
  • He has integrity and I appreciate Larry’s love for this country.
  • Larry is a man of Faith. He is so wise and loves God.
What Larry appreciates about Mary
  • Mary is very good at communicating, she works together with me as a team.
  • She keeps me on top of things, knows the schedule and keeps me on track.
  • Mary is full of faith and joy. She always looks at things in a positive way. I also appreciate her courage to share her faith and help others in theirs.
Mary and Larry on their wedding day
Secrets to Lasting Love 

Both of us have said when you enter marriage, don’t think it’s a 50/50 deal. Sometimes it’s 99/1, but you have to plan on giving more than 100%. When you do that, you will be successful. 

We pray together. We pray with and for each other. Once we went to a marriage encounter and there, they taught us to not ever let things get bundled up inside. If something is building up, you have to talk it out. 
Every day we say thank you, I love you and have a great day. Larry has always said that the words thank you are not said enough and always wanted us to say it to each other.

Now, with my blindness, I can hear his footsteps coming, and my tummy still flips and my heart still flutters when I hear him getting closer, even after all these 45 years! I really love that man. We enjoy each other’s company and we are so blessed. 
Flowers
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Larry and Mary Mueller
Jim and Christina Piccione

(As told by Chris)

I met Jim in 1983 at a family friend’s in Rockford. He had just turned 21. There were so many people there and my parents brought me because I was the oldest. I was brought up in an era when the girls didn’t call the boys. Boys were supposed to call me. But, when I left that evening, I said to him, “Well, give me a call sometime.” And that was the hardest thing to do because I didn’t know if I was going to get in trouble by my dad for saying that, or what! But I didn’t know if I would see him again. Then, he did call!
 
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Jim and Chris on their wedding day
What Jim appreciates about Chris
  • I love Chris’ Italian cream puffs! 
  • I appreciate her dedication to the family.
  • I like that she remembers all my siblings’ birthdays.

What Chris appreciates about Jim
  • I appreciate Jim’s extremely awesome Sicilian sauce and his meatballs.
  • I love also his sense of humor.
  • I love his dedication to his work and family.

Secrets to Lasting Love

Be patient with each other. Tell each other when something's bothering you. Make your spouse feel special, even if it's something small every day. Give each other space to do things with friends. Find hobbies that you both like to do. Also, we’re both dedicated our faith, which keeps us together.
 

My uncle sat me down, after he had met Jim a couple of times, and said to me, “If you really, really like this boy, and you’re going to get married someday, are you ready to be committed to the business?”. And I thought, “Oh, yeah, I can handle it no problem.” You know when you’re in love you think ‘everything is going to work out fine’, that everything’s easy and rosy.
 
When I met him, and while we were dating, I started coming to Jim’s Pizzeria with my parents. 

We were married and I started helping out right after our honeymoon. Now here we are! 

We’ve been married (and in the pizza business together) for 36 years!
White Flowers
Chris and Jim Piccione
Frank and Edna Feldman Schultz

(As told by Edna)

I met Frank while on the kibbutz in Israel. We were both milking cows in the dairy barn! But he had a girlfriend and I had a boyfriend. Then, I broke up with my boyfriend and Frank and his girlfriend split. Interestingly, our exes ended up together!  At one time, the four of us had been friends. In the end, Frank and I became closer, one thing led to another and we became a couple! 
Rose Buds
 
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Frank and Edna's wedding day

Frank was getting a Journalism degree. He couldn’t be a journalist in Israel, so we decided to live in the United States. 

We were engaged when I came to the U.S., but because I did not have the proper “fiancé visa”, I had to pay a $500 fine!

Frank and I just celebrated our 38th anniversary. When I used to tell my students how long we’d been married, they'd be shocked and asked, “You’ve been married that long to the same man?” I always thought that was so funny.

We’ve been married for 38 years!

 

Even though we’ve been married so long, for some reason he didn’t know that I love roses. My family all thought that I hate roses. So, for our anniversary, he bought a beautiful bouquet of flowers with everything but roses. Well, it came up in conversation...and now they know! You learn new things every day! What’s funny is that I still have the dried roses from my wedding in a container.

Rose 2
Rose 2
Rose 2

What Frank appreciates about Edna

  • Edna is driven. She came to this country not knowing much English and ended up with a master’s degree! 

  • She has a way of communicating about everything, no matter what, that helped us raise two remarkable children. 

  • Edna has a way of attracting interesting people into our circle of friends. 

These are all things that I lack, so it makes for an interesting life!

What Edna appreciates about Frank

  • We come from different families and different emotions, but he has learned to be a warm and expressive husband.

  • He’s a great father.

  • Frank is a smart person. I'm never bored and I always learn something new from him.
     

Frank and Edna Feldman Schultz

Secrets to Lasting Love 


Edna says with her great sense of humor, “Just ignore each other from time to time. Have a spare room in case of snoring.”

After a while, you realize that you are not perfect and you learn to respect each other. It’s also important to have similar values and goals in life. You have to be willing keep the commitment. You will grow together. It’s important to have some things that bond you, but each person will bring something interesting to the relationship.