Thursday, September 18, 2014

Couple goes from concern to Christian bond

By KRISTEN HOWELL, OU Student Correspondent | 2/10/2014

The story of Ottawa University’s Richard and Gaynia Menninger shows lifelong love can be born out of the most ordinary and unexpected moments, they said.

This tale began decades ago in Kansas City, Kan., where Gaynia’s grandmother had a building that previously served as a grocery store. Her grandmother asked all her grandchildren about allowing Emmanuel Baptist Church’s youth group to open a coffee shop in the building. Everyone liked the idea, except Gaynia, who said it wouldn’t be safe for her grandmother because of the close proximity between her home and the store.

The story of Ottawa University’s Richard and Gaynia Menninger shows lifelong love can be born out of the most ordinary and unexpected moments, they said.

This tale began decades ago in Kansas City, Kan., where Gaynia’s grandmother had a building that previously served as a grocery store. Her grandmother asked all her grandchildren about allowing Emmanuel Baptist Church’s youth group to open a coffee shop in the building. Everyone liked the idea, except Gaynia, who said it wouldn’t be safe for her grandmother because of the close proximity between her home and the store.

Despite Gaynia’s concern, her grandmother allowed the church to open its shop. Little did Gaynia know, that coffee shop would change her life.

When visiting her grandmother one day, Gaynia went to the shop and was introduced to the workers. Amongst them was a college senior from the University of Kansas — Richard Menninger.

“My first thought was, ‘You’re a senior at KU. I’m going to date you,’” Gaynia said.

Richard recalled that Gaynia was “confident and extremely good-looking.”

He asked her out, and they went to a drive-in July 20, 1969 — the same day the first astronaut walked on the moon.

It didn’t take long for their relationship to blossom. Just a few months later, Oct. 19, 1969, Richard proposed while they were sitting in Gaynia’s driveway after a date.

Gaynia said they didn’t date too long before their engagement because they were “just that sure.”

The two married Jan. 25, 1970.

Forty-four years later, they have stood the test of time and remain happily married.

Together, the Menningers have braved the trials and joys of life. They have worked side-by-side all but 18 months of their married life. Gaynia worked at the seminary where Richard was studying and then has worked at many of the places where he has taught. They were blessed to work together for all but a short span of time after they moved back to Kansas from California.

“There was only one time for 18 months that we didn’t share the same thing. I was working at the Girl Scouts and he was teaching,” Gaynia said. “It’s a God thing.”

Both of the Menningers work at OU — Gaynia as the executive assistant to the president and Richard as the chair of the Department of Theological and Religious Studies and a teacher in a variety of religion classes.

Working at the same institution has allowed the Menningers to spend time together, which is a bit of marriage advice Gaynia encourages, she said. They also both find that it’s important to share the same faith as their spouse.

“Find someone who will enhance your walk with Christ; stay pure because marriage can only be fully experienced when you are totally committed to another physically, emotionally and spiritually; place Christ at the center of your marriage and grow deeper into Him and into each other,” Richard said.

The Menningers enjoy traveling and doing yard work together. They go on walks, watch TV and spend time with family — two children and two grandchildren.

After four decades of marriage, Gaynia said the best part of their union is sharing everything.

“If you have secrets, it’s because you’re going to surprise them with something,” she said. “Also, every Valentine’s Day, I get a dozen roses from Richard. He’s kind of a romantic.”

For Richard, the best part of being married is having someone say “I love you” at the end of the day, he said.

Republished from The Campus, the student newspaper of Ottawa University.

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