Made for Each Other
(as featured in the Fall 2008 AlumniNews)
By Connie Conway
Al ’67, ’69 and Joan ’68 Mead tell a great story about how they met as undergraduates at WestConn. “Some buddies and I were having a silly conversation in the coffee shop at the old Student Union,” remembers Danbury-born-and-raised Al. “One fellow said something was ‘irrevelent.’ At the next table, Joan—ever the English education major—just put her foot down.”
“I told him the word was ‘irrelevant’,” says Joan, who originally hailed from Pennsylvania. “I had to correct a mistake like that.”
“Meantime, I’m looking at her attractive face,” Al recalls with a twinkle. “And thinking, hmmm, here’s an interesting woman.’”
Joan laughs, protesting it was her roommate who “convinced me to go out with him.”
“We were married a year later, between semesters,” Al says.
In college and throughout life, it’s clear the Meads have always been thoroughly involved people. As an undergraduate, Al, a secondary-education/mathematics major who interrupted college with a four-year stint in the Air Force, managed the basketball team. Joan sang in class productions that were regularly presented to the school at large.
“But I love to tell about the first time I actually saw Al, before we’d ever met,” Joan says. “He was up on a ladder, trying to fix a basketball net. He told someone to toss him a ball, which they did…”
“And I missed it!” Al chuckles.
“Which left me with quite an impression,” concludes his wife of 44 years.
The couple pursued careers that engaged them fully. Al was an eighth-grade math teacher for 29 years in Carmel, N.Y., while Joan was a full-time homemaker who would later go on to other career interests as her children Amanda, now 43, and Joseph, 42 grew.
“I substitute-taught and was a proofreader for the News-Times,” she says. “Then for a few years I was a partner in a restaurant business. Doing different things appealed to me. I even managed Union Carbide’s audio-visual department until they moved. After that, I was an editor until I retired.”
The two “retired” Meads seem anything but that. Still strongly connected to their alma mater, they attend Homecoming and football games, and are dedicated supporters of the WCSU Foundation.
“Currently I’m on WestConn’s Annual Golf Tournament committee,” explains Al. “And I get to as many Colonials basketball games as I can.”
WestConn has grown so much since they were students, notes Joan. “We’re delighted that our daughterin-law, Laura, is enrolled in WestConn’s new doctoral program in educational leadership.”
Grandparents to three who live just down the road, the Meads also keep busy with civic concerns. Al serves as chairman of the Richter Park Authority and Joan is currently on Danbury’s Charter Revision Commission.