Baltimore love story: The Strumskys

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Dawn and John Strumsky are “living large” at Charlestown. Dawn, the “wacky weather girl” for the Catonsville retirement community’s in-house TV station, and John, an ex-Marine and avid runner, appear to be the perfect match. But the couple’s first encounter, 45 years ago, wasn’t love at first sight – at least for her.

“John was the first person thrown out of the city fair,” Dawn says with a sly smile. She was working for Mayor William Donald Schaefer at an information booth during the 1970 Baltimore City Fair, and John was persistently inquisitive. “I didn’t have time for any other questions that were not legitimate.”

They met twice more that same day, once at the Golden Horn in Towson, where they shared a dance, and next at the Bel Loc Diner.

Later Dawn’s friend Karen, who had accompanied her that evening, said to John, “I just knew it had to be fate or something. Nobody can meet like that three times in the same day, unless you were stalking us. I never saw car headlights behind our car, so I don’t think you were.”

After that night, Dawn played hard to get, dodging John’s phone calls and setting up a very early breakfast date to discourage him. “It became a challenge,” he says. “How did I know he liked challenges?” Dawn quips.

John’s determination eventually paid off. They were married Oct. 14, 1972.

When talking about how they’ve made things work over the past 43 years, John says: “When you have a relationship this long it’s because you basically like each other, you basically respect each other, you basically care for each other and you look out for each other. None of it happened up front. It kind of grows over time. She’s got my back and I’ve got hers.”

Says Dawn: “You always hear that my husband or my wife is my best friend. That’s really true.”

And in typically Strumsky fashion, John has the last line on the subject.

“It didn’t start out that way. But you were a cute enemy.”

(This story was originally published online on December 8, 2015.)