Jack Champaigne ’80 met Diane (Schueler) Champaigne ’80 when both welcomed new students while serving as Carroll orientation mentors. Their friendship grew in the months that followed, leading to a chilled night in February when they spent time shooting photos and then moved inside the basement of Main Hall for warmth. There, he asked her to marry him. It was Valentine's Day.
Although they knew a lot of the same people as students at Carroll, Jack and Diane had not met until a mutual interest in photography brought them together during their time as orientation mentors at Minooka Park. That was the day when Diane noticed Jack taking photos at the event. She was interested in photography and was considering buying equipment. She said, “That was a connection.”
Jack grew up in east central Wisconsin and knew Carroll because his sister had also attended the school. It felt like a good fit for him. Diane came to Carroll as a transfer student and studied social psychology with a minor in business. Jack studied biology with a minor in geography.
“We wrote on clay tablets way back then,” Jack joked.
“I didn’t even know he existed,” Diane said.
During the orientation event, Diane recalls that Jack helped her put away volleyball equipment. The conversation turned to where Jack lived on campus and soon after, they continued a friendship that grew to something more.
“Then we kept connecting,” Diane said. “You bump into the same person all the time and we found out we have all the same friends and figured, ‘How come we didn’t meet earlier?”
That mutual interest in photography took them out one night to explore night photography in the back of Carroll’s Main Hall. It was cold. The water faucets were frozen. But it seemed the perfect evening to enjoy some time together doing something they both loved. Jack, though, had something else in mind, too.
“It was getting really late. Classes were going to end. I said I was freezing. ‘We have to go inside. I have to warm up’,” Diane recalled. “I was so cold. He kept wanting me to stay out.”
“I think I was a little nervous at the time, probably very typical of that sort of thing,” Jack said. “It’s probably why we stayed out like we did. I was trying to get up the nerve and finally did.”
Diane said, “We went into the basement of Main Hall through the door on the outside closest to the library. We went inside, and that’s when he proposed,” she said.
“And she said, ‘Yes,’” Jack said.
It was Valentine’s Day 1980.
By August 2 of that year, they had already both graduated and then married on Carroll’s campus. Jack had a job lined up in Iowa and they were ready to start life together. Jack built a career in corn sweetening, which Diane said is “an engineering type of field.” She went into selling computer systems and said she was the only woman in Iowa doing that at the time. They loved the outdoors. They spent time together hiking and skiing both cross country and downhill. Then they started a family – raising two daughters - and moved around the country for work, including Green Bay, Wisconsin then to Georgia, back to Green Bay and then pre-retirement took them to central Wisconsin.
“And that’s when we realized that to help our children it would be best if we came out west with them,” Diane said. So, at the request of their son-in-law, they moved three years ago to Washington state, where they now live in a multigenerational home with their daughter, her husband, and grandchildren.
Here, they are able to not only spend time with family but with the community. It was a sense for serving others back on the Carroll campus as orientation mentors that first brought them together. Today, they continue to share their time and talents with others. After moving to the area, their mutual interest in hiking led them to a state park nearby and opportunities to volunteer. So, each weekend at Cama Beach State Park Center for Wooden Boats, Jack refurbishes wooden row and sail boats, and together they spend time with children to help them build their own little ships. Here, Jack also finished a child’s play area ship in need of repair.
While Valentine’s Day is special to them as the day Jack proposed to Diane, after more than 40 years of marriage, there isn’t necessarily a big to-do in celebration each year.
“Just being together is good enough,” Jack said.