They connected despite distance


Kerry Shahan And Andrew Johnston

March 24, 2002|By Sandy Alexander | By Sandy Alexander,Sun Staff

In the summer of 1997, Kerry Shahan took an internship halfway across the country to add to her graduate study of student-affairs administration. After eight weeks, she returned home with more than work experience: She had found her future husband.

Kerry, 27, was midway through a two-year master's degree program at the University of Vermont when she went to the University of Missouri at Columbia for a summer internship. There she met Andrew Johnston, now 30, who was the school's director of leadership programs and student organizations.

They attended a number of the same social events and found each other easy to talk to. They discovered they had a lot in common, including having been competitive swimmers when they were younger.

"We dated for about four weeks ... and we had to kind of look at each other and say, 'Is this worth doing long-distance,' " Kerry says. "We decided it was."

Andrew decided to drive with Kerry from Missouri to her home in Silver Spring. He visited for a few days and then, as he got on a plane to return home, he told Kerry he was going to marry her someday.

But that day did not arrive quickly. First they had a long-distance relationship as Kerry finished her degree in Vermont and Andrew, who grew up in Joplin, Mo., stayed in Columbia. Then they were both seeking new job opportunities and wanted to be together, so they ended up in North Carolina. But nine months later, Andrew got a better job in Baltimore. Kerry followed him north three months later.

The couple lived in Ellicott City and then decided to move to the city, so they bought a rowhouse in Canton.

Now Kerry works as director of alumni relations at Gilman School in Roland Park, and Andrew is a human-resources manager at Sherwin-Williams Co. in Baltimore. They have fixed up their house and spent time getting to know their new home city. Last May, they decided it was time to get married.

"We are both traditional people but we had a nontraditional courtship," says Andrew. With the moving and the job searches, "we have gone over some pretty big obstacles," he adds.

"We respect each other's ideas, respect each other's differences," Andrew says. "She allows me to feel comfortable enough to be myself."

"I trust him implicitly," adds Kerry. "I enjoy my time with him."

Kerry says she suspected something was up when Andrew took her out to dinner at a favorite restaurant on a Friday evening, but nothing happened until he suggested they walk around the Inner Harbor. He steered her to the Baltimore Marriott Inner Harbor hotel and then to a room with three dozen roses and a view of the harbor. Andrew proposed and gave Kerry an engagement ring that had been in his family and another ring that had been in her family.

The couple married March 16 -- Andrew's parents' 44th anniversary -- at the Cloisters in Brooklandville. Andrew and Kerry toasted the elder Johnstons at the reception, which included dinner, music and homemade butter-mint candies Andrew's mother brought from Missouri.

From the start, their relationship was "so easy and comfortable," Kerry says. "It made sense."


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