From career first to family first COLLEEN MAGUIRE AND BRIAN PHEBUS

JUST MARRIED

Just Married

October 18, 1998|By Joanne E. Morvay | Joanne E. Morvay,Special to the sun

On a recent evening at Brian Phebus' cozy Reisterstown condominium, the scene was typical family chaos. Brian's sons, Andrew, 9, and Matthew, 6, were alternately playing a noisy video game, wrestling playfully and making trips to the kitchen for snacks .

Brian's fiancee, Colleen Maguire, was being pulled in various directions by the multiple projects she always seems to have going all at once. As a Baltimore-based merchandiser for the Greg Norman Collection - a line of golf sportswear that is a division of Reebok - Colleen often has pressing business matters. An artist at heart, she also routinely has elaborate redecorating schemes and crafts projects to occupy her - and Brian's - time.

Brian, just home from a busy day at work as a manager in the investment technology division at T. Rowe Price, surveyed the warm scene with a smile, grateful for the domestic bliss that Colleen has brought to his life.

"The nicest thing that Colleen does for me - and she does it almost every day - is she really partners with me in taking care of my children," says Brian.

More than a year ago, Colleen was offered her dream job - as a buyer at a New York fashion house. But after having spent eight months dating Brian and spending time with his sons, Colleen decided that the constant travel, hectic pace and stress that go with such a high-profile job didn't look so appealing.

And so the consummate career girl turned down the job it seemed she had worked her whole life to land. She traded fancy parties for family dinners, fabulous trips abroad for an endless round of Andrew and Matthew's baseball and football practices and games.

Brian shares custody of his sons with his ex-wife, and the boys frequently stay with him.

"Not for a second do I ever regret the decision," Colleen says, looking earnestly at a slightly embarrassed Brian. "My life is extremely balanced now."

Former Catholic-school classmates at St. Mary's Govans in Baltimore, Colleen and Brian grew up just a few blocks apart and saw each other daily at school for years. They lost touch after eighth grade graduation and never set eyes upon one another again until May 1996, when they both attended a "heritage reunion" for all St. Mary's Govans alumni.

They began dating soon after, starting a long-distance relationship because Colleen was then living in Columbus, Ohio. For nearly a year, they met frequently in New York (when Colleen was there on business), here in Baltimore and, occasionally, in Columbus.

Their relationship might have continued as it was, or their feelings for each other might have fallen victim to the distance between them, except for a cataclysmic event in Colleen's life. Early in 1997, Colleen's beloved great-aunt, Elizabeth Gessner, died.

In deep grief, Colleen took stock of her life. "I realized being that far away from my family was not good for me, and I knew I was far too wrapped up in my job," she says.

Brian, too, began to wonder where life was leading him. And one night, he realized that his best times occurred when he and Colleen and his sons were together. On the spur of the moment, he proposed.

On Oct. 3, Colleen and Brian, both 33, were married at the Loyola College Alumni Chapel. Andrew and Matthew brought the Communion gifts to the altar with help from Brian's parents, Pat and Andy Phebus of Baltimore. Brian's brother Kevin was his best man. Colleen's brother Jim gave her away as her mother, Mary Maguire of White Marsh, looked on.

Colleen was a sentimental picture in her mother-in-law's wedding gown with a medal of the Blessed Mother (that had belonged to her beloved great-aunt) sewn into the lining. On one hand, Colleen wore her grandmother's wedding band.

As she met Brian at the end of the aisle, Colleen could have been thinking about sentiment of a different sort. She still has her autograph book from eighth grade. In it, Brian had scrawled a mushy line. And though he is too embarrassed to let it be TTC repeated here, the gist of the message was that Colleen should never forget him.

And so she didn't.

Pub date 10/18/98

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