A 'Place' of their own


Erin Conroy And Dirk Lueders Ii

May 14, 2000|By Joanne E. Morvay | Joanne E. Morvay,Special to the Sun

It was like a Baltimore version of the television program "Melrose Place." The setting was an apartment complex in Fells Point, complete with its own courtyard, just like the popular TV show. The characters were a group of young go-getters, most in their 20s.

It was 1995. Erin Conroy, fresh out of the University of Delaware, moved in with former college classmates in August. That fall, Dirk Lueders II became the new guy on the block. He had just taken a job at Aberdeen Proving Ground and wanted to live somewhere "fun."

The two met in January during a "Blizzard of '96" party. By the time the ice melted that spring, Erin and Dirk were officially an item.

Erin met Dirk's family early on. His parents, retired U.S. Army Col. Dirk Lueders and Ann Rockwell Lueders, live in Dumfries, Va., near the Quantico Marine base.

Erin's parents, Stephen and Barbara Conroy, visited Baltimore often from their home in Manhasset on New York's Long Island.

Erin and Dirk say they knew almost from the beginning that they wanted to spend their lives with each other.

"But there was no feeling that we were going to rush out and get married," Dirk says.

The couple traveled, attending friends' weddings in other states or hitting area beaches for the weekend. They spent time with family. And they enjoyed life in their new hometown. Friday afternoons often found them at Max's on Broadway. Sunday nights meant dinners at Gecko's in Canton. They also spent time running or walking along the harbor. "There [still] are weekends where we park our cars after work on Friday and don't get in them again until Monday," Erin says.

Dirk earned his master's degree in environmental science at the University of Maryland, College Park. He graduated in 1998 and has since become the environmental coordinator for Unilever HPC in Baltimore. Erin is an institutional marketing representative for T. Rowe Price in Owings Mills.

On Jan. 22, 1999, Dirk proposed, presenting Erin with an heirloom ring that had belonged to his grandmother. Last July, the couple bought a rowhouse in Canton.

Deciding where they would marry was easy.

"I feel like this is my home now," Erin says. "Baltimore is where we built our life together."

On April 29, 200 guests -- including their families and many of their former neighbors from Fells Point -- watched Erin, 26, and Dirk, 31, wed at the Basilica of the Assumption. The ceremony and reception had decidedly Irish overtones. Erin has a strong Irish heritage (her side of the church included relatives from Ireland who came to the United States for the wedding) and Dirk has a touch of Irish in him as well.

Their unity candle was marked with a claddagh -- the Irish symbol of love, friendship and loyalty. Dirk also chose a traditional Irish claddagh ring for his wedding band.

As the newlyweds left the church, bagpipers played and their guests rang little silver bells, an Irish tradition. Erin's sister Kerrie, an Irish step dancer, performed with a friend at the reception at Westminster Hall.

Unlike their sometimes self-absorbed television counterparts, Erin and Dirk were determined to give back to the city that brought them together. At their reception, the couple made a donation, in their guests' name, to Our Daily Bread, the downtown soup kitchen.

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