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Love is in the air with these Sun Devil stories

Faculty and alumni share their stories — how they met and how they've kept the fire burning through life's ups and downs


Photos of love

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February 13, 2020

Editor’s note: This story is being highlighted in ASU Now’s year in review. Read more top stories from 2020.

Love finds us all at different times and takes us to different places — just ask these Sun Devil faculty and alumni.

ASU Now picked the brains — and hearts — of three Arizona State University couples who have stood the test of time. We asked them for their tips and advice on how to keep the fire burning through life's ups and downs. Here's what they had to say:

Below, listen to their individual stories.

Instant Connection

Foundation Professor Devoney Looser and Professor George Justice, both of the Department of English, fell in love over a drink at the Javelina Cantina in Tucson while attending the American Society for Eighteenth-Century Studies conference. The two of them found their friends drifting away, and before the night was over there was a declaration of marriage on the table.

To find out more about their story, listen as they talk about the institution of marriage, Jane Austen and love-filled emails:

Drifting through love

For music Professor Mike Kocour and Heather Landes, director of the School of Music, love happened at different times. On their first date, Heather couldn't help but notice the cute jazz pianist playing in the club, who also happened to have a locker next to hers. Mike — so lost in his music — finally saw "this beautiful girl" weeks later as she crossed the street. 

Find out who initiated the date that has led to 35 years of love:

Friendship first

Brian and Leah Swanton met each other on their first day of classes at ASU, where they were both in the urban planning program. Brian was young — 17 at the time — and felt like Leah was out of his league. This year they are celebrating 25 years together, their three beautiful daughters and the scholarship they recently created for current ASU students, The Brian and Leah Swanton Urban Planning Scholarship.

To learn more about what led to love after four years of friendship, listen here:



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    Herberger Institute School of Music Director Heather Landes met and fell in love with her professor of jazz studies husband, Mike Kocour, in 1985 while they were both undergraduate students at the University of Illinois.

    Photo courtesy of Heather Landes and Mike Kocour

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    Today, Landes and Kocour's love story continues at Arizona State University.

    Photo courtesy of Heather Landes and Mike Kocour

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    alt="Devoney Looser and George Justice"
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    Devoney Looser and George Justice, together in Philadelphia just one month after they met. The pair would go on to exchange thousands of emails.

    Photo courtesy of Devoney Looser and George Justice

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    Devoney Looser and George Justice in 2019. (They still love Jane Austen.)

    Photo courtesy of Devoney Looser and George Justice

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    Brian and Leah Swanton each graduated with a bachelor's degree in urban planning in 1995. They were friends for years before going on their first date at Monti's La Casa Vieja during their final semester.

    Photo courtesy of Brian and Leah Swanton

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    The Swanton family includes three daughters, one of whom is currently a Sun Devil.

    Photo courtesy of Brian and Leah Swanton

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    Leah and Brian Swanton pose together for a portrait on the patio of the College of Design nearly 25 years after they graduated. Read about the endowment they created to provide scholarship awards to students pursuing degrees in urban planning.

    Photo courtesy of Brian and Leah Swanton

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    Top photos courtesy of the lovebirds

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