Years apart, then a spark


Susanne Ogaitis And Bill Jones

March 05, 2000|By Joanne E. Morvay | Joanne E. Morvay,Special to the Sun

Eighteen years ago, Bill Jones looked across the room and fell in love with a pregnant nun. Behind the Halloween costume was Susanne Ogaitis, a junior biology major at the University of Maryland, Baltimore County, where Bill was a second-year graduate student studying applied mathematics.

Susanne had come to the costume party Bill and his roommate were throwing. Susanne and Bill were introduced, they talked and a few weeks later, Bill asked Susanne out.

Bill was "smitten." Unfortunately, Susanne didn't return his feelings. "I was clueless at 20," she says. Bill soon realized pursuing a relationship was futile, so he and Susanne became "just friends." Bill earned his graduate degree in 1983, and after Susanne graduated the next spring, the two lost touch.

Susanne left for graduate school at the University of Massachusetts, where she earned her degree in public health. Then she moved a dozen times to various states pursuing jobs in health education.

Bill, meanwhile, was hired by Westinghouse Electric Corp. (now Northrop Grumman Corp.) He spent nearly 15 years there as a systems engineer before leaving to become a consultant at RABA Technologies in Columbia.

Susanne returned to the area in 1994 (she's now a health educator specializing in injury prevention at Johns Hopkins Center for Injury Research and Policy).

Her parents, Ann and John Ogaitis, were still living in Ellicott City, and she often visited there. Bill, who had moved to Catonsville, also made frequent trips to Ellicott City to see his parents, Patricia and William Jones Sr.

It took four years for the couple to unexpectedly run into one another. On Dec. 27, 1998, Susanne and Bill met while taking a walk along the Trolley Trail between Catonsville and Ellicott City. Both were accompanied by friends they had known at UMBC. Susanne recognized Bill immediately, but couldn't place his name. Bill remembered one of Susanne's companions and began chatting with her.

Then he realized the other woman was Susanne, "at which point," he recalls, "I became speechless."

Over the years, Bill dated other women and became involved in serious relationships that didn't work out. When he thought about Susanne, he says, "In my mind, she was always the one that got away."

Bill and Susanne's chance encounter lasted a few minutes. In that time, the only thing Bill said to her was, "I live in an old house in Catonsville with my cat." His point was to make sure she knew he was still single. Susanne remembers thinking, "I live in an old house in Roland Park with my cat."

A few days later, Bill tracked down Susanne's phone number and called. The couple met for coffee. Ten days later, they met for dinner. That night, "I knew I would marry Susanne," Bill says. Susanne was more careful with her feelings. "That's the caution that comes with 20 years of dating," she jokes.

But by last June, Susanne knew they belonged together. And when Bill proposed July 30 "spontaneously" -- he didn't have a ring -- she accepted.

On Feb. 12, Susanne, 37, and Bill, 40, were married at Corpus Christi Roman Catholic Church in Baltimore. Their reception was held at Westminster Hall. After dinner, Susanne and Bill enjoyed a Lithuanian liqueur Susanne's dad made for the occasion. The drink is supposed to bring good luck.

But Susanne and Bill will probably have a hard time topping the stroke of luck they had in 1998: They just happened to run into each other after all those years.

Baltimore Sun Articles
Please note the green-lined linked article text has been applied commercially without any involvement from our newsroom editors, reporters or any other editorial staff.