How They Met… Joan and Ken

2-12 Landises

Ken and Joan Landis, well into their 63rd year of marriage and nearly 50 years in Swarthmore and Wallingford.

Joan and Kendall Landis

Kendall and Joan Landis met at a party on Valentine’s Day in 1952. Friends thought that they might be a good match. Joan and Ken both were working in New York City: Ken at 1st National City Bank and Joan at Macmillan Press. But according to both Joan and Ken, they were not initially attracted to each other.

Their next meeting was at a friend’s wedding in New York in May of 1952. Each arrived late, and as fate would have it, the only seats left were next to each other. Before the wedding festivities were over, Ken borrowed $5 from a friend and asked Joan out to dinner. They had their first date that evening, when they went to the San Remo Café in Greenwich Village.

Ken, a Vermonter, had graduated from Swarthmore in 1948, following duty in the U.S. Naval Air Corps, and planned a trip to Swarthmore to visit one of his professors, Phil Hicks. Joan drove down with Ken. On the way back, Ken suggested that they should marry. Joan accepted, and they were married on Valentine’s Day, 1953 in a small ceremony at the home of Joan’s aunt and uncle in Fall Village, Connecticut — one year after meeting on Valentine’s Day.

Why marry on Valentine’s Day? Kendall said that it would always be easy to remember. Joan, a poet, said that the number 14 has often appeared in their life together. Joan’s mother was born on the 14th, and so were two of their sons. And, of course, she and Ken had met on the 14th.

The Landises spent their early married years in Saudi Arabia, Lebanon and elsewhere in the Middle East. In 1967, Ken became vice president of college administration at his alma mater, remaining at Swarthmore until retirement in 1990 as vice president for development and alumni affairs. Joan, a native of New Jersey, had earned a bachelors degree at Bennington and a masters at Wesleyan, and completed her doctorate at Bryn Mawr. She established the liberal arts curriculum at Curtis Institute of Music, and chaired Curtis’s liberal arts department. They have three sons (two of whom graduated from Swarthmore) and six grandsons.

This Sunday, on Valentine’s Day, Kendall and Joan will celebrate their 64th anniversary quietly at their home at Plush Mills Senior Living in Wallingford.

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