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Finding love at the DePaulia

John Ryan and Patricia Minahan discussing the yearbook layout, 1948/John Ryan and Patricia Minahan on their wedding day, May 15, 1949.
(Left) John Ryan and Patricia Minahan discuss the yearbook layout in 1948. (Right) Ryan and Minahan on their wedding day in 1949. (DePaul University/Special Collections and Archives)

A stolen glance during Immersion Week…a serendipitous run-in at Kelly’s Pub…some playful banter during a study break at the library. With thousands of eligible students around, your college years are a great time to meet a special someone. But with balancing classes, extra-curricular activities, and part-time jobs, finding the special someone during your college years can be a little trickier. This February, in honor of the month of love, University Archives is taking a look back at one particular campus romance that led to a walk down the aisle.

The Oct. 10, 1948 issue of the “DePaulia” reports on some “strange” things that happened over summer vacation—people kept getting engaged. Listed among the newly-betrothed were John “The Mad Irishman” Ryan and Patricia “Mauler” Minahan. The report was part of the student newspaper’s “Spillway” column, which as you might have guessed, was a quirky humor column, with jokes, puns and short stories based on campus life. It goes on to suggest a new course be offered at DePaul called, “Marriage, Home and the Mother-in-Law.” All joking aside, two students named John Ryan and Patricia Minahan did, in fact, get engaged that summer, after meeting on campus in the offices of the “DePaulia.”

Ryan was editor-in chief of the student newspaper for the 1946-47 academic year. That same year, Minahan entered as a freshman and began contributing a poetry column as a staffer at the paper. While her column regularly featured verse on the theme of love, it was often love lost. Minahan also served as the news editor for the 1947 freshman Issue, an annual tradition at the “DePaulia” that gave first-years the chance to display their talents by leaving them fully-responsible for publishing one edition of the paper.

Minahan’s contributions must have made an impression, because she took over as news editor the following year. Ryan remained at the paper after his term as editor-in chief, but as a news staff member under the editorship of Minahan. It’s around this time the couple’s campus romance appears to really blossom. The two are pictured together in both the yearbook and the newspaper that year, working side-by-side on print layouts and attending social events, like the Sodality Basket Dance and a New Year’s Eve variety show.

Ryan and Minahan got engaged the following summer and were married on May 15, 1949. Many of the wedding attendees were colleagues from the “DePaulia.” The ceremony was performed by the Rev. Jeremiah C. Lehane, C.M., an English professor at DePaul and faculty advisor to the student newspaper, making it an all-“DePaulia” occasion and a true story of campus love.