From 'war' stories to a love story


Nancy Barr And Paul Grossman

July 04, 1999|By Joanne E. Morvay | By Joanne E. Morvay,Special to the Sun

Nancy Barr and Paul Grossman met when they began studies at the same medical school. But it wasn't until they experienced the universal misery of med students that the couple became friends.

In August 1994, Nancy, who grew up in Catonsville, and Paul, who hails from Pasadena, Calif., started classes at the University of Southern California.

It wasn't until their third-year "rotations" (where medical students are assigned to various medical practices for monthly intervals) that the couple became better acquainted. In November 1996, Nancy and Paul were on an obstetrics-gynecology team.

"It was total hell," Nancy recalls. "The residents were mean to us. The hours were awful. It was horrible."

The students spent most of their time making copies, running messages and performing other "useless" errands. As the weeks wore on, Nancy and Paul became "war buddies," trying to survive the onslaught of scut work and venting their frustration because, in their opinion, they weren't really learning anything.

In mid-December, after the awful rotation had ended, Nancy was returning to Baltimore to do a family-practice rotation at Franklin Square Hospital. The day before she left, she spent the evening with Paul and his family at the Grossmans' annual Christmas cookie-decorating party. She had dinner with them and then Paul asked her to the movies. But Paul also asked an old college friend who was in town to accompany them, so it wasn't really a date, Nancy says.

The next day, Paul drove Nancy to the airport. As they sat talking in the terminal, Nancy gave Paul her phone number in Baltimore. When her plane was called, Nancy reached over to hug Paul -- a little unsure, she says now, whether it was the right thing to do.

Paul, usually quiet and reserved, pulled Nancy into his embrace and gave her a soulful kiss. "It just kind of happened," Paul recalls. But he had had feelings for Nancy all through the terrible rotation they shared, he explains.

Nancy and Paul talked almost daily while she was in Baltimore. When she returned to California, he picked her up at the airport. From then on, they were together nearly every day.

Nancy and Paul graduated from medical school in May 1998. Their families were introduced at graduation and got along "just great," Nancy says.

In June, the couple began their first year of residency at the University of California at San Diego. They are both family-practice doctors.

Last October, they got engaged, and on June 27, Nancy, 28, and Paul, 30, were married at the Harbourtowne Golf Resort and Conference Center in St. Michaels. The multidenominational ceremony was held on a point overlooking the eastern part of the Chesapeake Bay. The sun was just beginning to set as a group of wild swans swam into view.

Nancy and Paul said vows they wrote themselves, and their parents -- Mike and Esther Barr of Catonsville and Paul and Margie Grossman of Pasadena, Calif. -- did readings.

The small wedding party included Nancy's brother Kurt Barr and Paul's brother-in-law Holger Besch as groomsmen. Paul's sister Beth Besch was a bridesmaid.

Though their chosen field was the bond that brought them together, Nancy and Paul have many more interests to pursue in married life. They enjoy all kinds of outdoor sports, love to take in the sights of San Diego, go to the movies often and make a practice of reading aloud to each other.

"Paul is somebody I can imagine being with not only when I'm 28, but when I'm 40 and when I'm 60 and well beyond that," Nancy says.

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