John and Brenda (Hartigan) Zamary

Met: Fall 1958
Married: July 1962


John: BS, MS, Elementary Education (’61 & ’67) Brenda: BS, MS, Elementary Education (’61 & ’71)

The story of how we met:
We don’t remember a specific date, place or event that brought us together, but Brenda and I agree that the general time frame was first semester year, circa 1958. We recall that we attended many classmates in Berkshire Hall and one of them was Stanley Bleifeld’s art course, which met in the basement.

Brenda was, and still is, gifted in the visual arts. She seemed to work effortlessly and always produce a completed project that was worthy of praise from both faculty and classmates. I, on the other hand, was what might generously be characterized as artistically challenged. I remember one painted wooden masterpiece that I created and brought to Mr. Bleifeld for his “approval.” He told me it looked liked hell, and that became its title.

Brenda and I often took breaks at the same time in “The Hut,” where we would discuss our works of art as well as other weighty issues. In December, “The Hut” was sparsely festooned with holiday decorations, including the obligatory sprig of mistletoe. I smoked at the time and Brenda said that if I quit for a week, she’d meet me under the mistletoe. The motivation was strong, I did, and she did.

Basketball perpetuated our relationship. In those days, the bus that carried the team to away games always had extra seats available to other students, and, if we didn’t go to every away game, I’m sure we went to most. The dark bus ride home gave us ample time to “visit.”

The visiting continued beyond basketball season, and we became engaged on our last official day on campus, graduation day, June 11, 1961. After 46 years, two sons, four grandchildren, five dogs, a couple of gerbils, and a goose named Norman, we’re still producing art together. Her works are still beautiful, and mine…

WestConn Sweethearts' 61
will celebrate their 50th anniversary

(as featured in the Spring 2012 issue of  The Cupola)

For graduates Brenda and John Zamary, being WestConn Sweethearts keeps fond memories alive.The Newtown couple will celebrate their 50th anniversary in July — and it all started here on campus.

“We got engaged on graduation day in 1961,” said Brenda, recalling when John nervously pulled out a ring moments before diplomas were handed out. “He did surprise me. When he took out the engagement ring box, I thought it was a charm for graduation.”

Both retired area schoolteachers, John and Brenda Zamary majored in elementary education at Western. They met in their sophomore year after attending WCSU basketball games with a group of students. The couple also took an art course together, even though Brenda said John is not artistically inclined.

Brenda said being a WestConn Sweetheart gives her and her husband a special relationship with their alma mater. And they have three bricks in the Alumni Circle, one which commemorates the date of their engagement and graduation. “It’s great fun to stay involved because it brings back so many memories,” Brenda said. “It was a very wonderful time.”

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