Classmates Judy and Chick Straut walk down the same aisle 50 years later.
CHARLES “CHICK” STRAUT C’58 knew something was up when he walked into Great Hall for lunch his sophomore year and spotted his friend Judy Hawkins C’58. “I called out, ‘Judy, saveme a place,’” says Chick, who remembers Hawkins lobbing back a tart comment. Chick, it turns out, had accepted an invitation to the Sadie Hawkins dance from the little sister Judy hadmentored. “Judy wasmad atme,” says Chick. “That was the moment I knew I was going to marry her.”
The ink on their diplomas barely dry, the couple did just that, standing in Craig Chapel of Seminary Hall before the Rev. James H. Pain T’54,’55, who was then Drew’s director of religious life. After a large wedding, with scads of Drew friends, Chick and Judy sped off for their honeymoon in a getaway car stashed off campus by best man David Rein C’56, for whom the Strauts would name their first son.
Fifty years later to the day, Aug. 23, 2008, the couple came back to Craig Chapel—or what Chick calls “the scene of the crime”—to renew their vows. Instead of being surrounded by Drew friends, they had their large family—including three of their four children, 14 of 15 grandchildren and two infant great-grandchildren—on hand from as far away as Canada and California.
But one thing did not change: Pain, Pfeiffer Professor of Religious Studies, was there to officiate once again, remarking that the day—the only time he has married a Drew couple both initially and again on their 50th anniversary—was a testament to the constancy of marriage and God’s love. Pain’s presence “was special,” says Judy. “It was almost like the same wedding.”
Between the two ceremonies, Chick would earn two degrees from the Theological School, in 1962 and 1977, and become the Rev. Charles H. Straut Jr., who ministered to Brooklyn Methodists until he retired in 2001. Over the years, the couple has stayed close to Drew, taking an active role on the executive boards of their alumni associations; Chick has also served as a university trustee for more than a decade. Family gatherings could almost be considered Drew gatherings; three of their children, a daughter-in-law, a son-in-law, a cousin, a niece and Judy’s sister have all earned degrees from the university.
Chick would learn later that his Sadie Hawkins date had gone to Judy for a pep talk. “I told her, ‘Go ahead, ask him,’” says Judy. “I wanted to ask him myself, but we hadn’t been dating so I didn’t say anything.” That selflessness says a great deal about Judy’s character, according to Chick. David Rein would agree, believing that it accounts, at least in part, for why the couple has stayed together a half century: “The man I admire most in the world had the good sense to marry the woman he did.”