Colgate Love Stories

Winter 2016
Robert and Kelly together at Colgate Commencement '94

Robert ’94 and Kelly Lehmann Johnson ’94

In 1990 I left Texas and headed to beautiful Hamilton, N.Y., for college. I had been recruited to throw shotput and discus, and the track and field team quickly became my new family after I arrived on campus.

Certain days will always be engrained in my memory, and one I will never forget happened on a January afternoon in 1991. Walking into the field house that snowy afternoon for practice, I immediately noticed a cute blond woman whose name I later discovered was Kelly. She was a javelin thrower and she had joined the team for the spring outdoor season.

One benefit to track and field is that it is a coed sport. Because our practices ran long, most of the team ate together virtually every weeknight. Between practice, weight-lifting sessions, and eating meals together, Kelly and I got to know each other well. For some reason, it took me until March to ask her out. Thankfully, she said yes.

She borrowed her roommate’s station wagon and we drove to the mall in Utica to see a movie. Instead of the typical first-date romantic comedy movie, I went a little bolder and we saw Silence of the Lambs. Almost a quarter of a century later, she still hasn’t forgiven me and shudders when I say, in my poor imitation of Hannibal Lecter, “Hello, Clarice….”

Even with that misstep, the date went well. We quickly became a couple and stayed together all the way through graduation. The Colgate legend says that if a couple’s first “I love you” is at Taylor Lake, then it will stick for life. It has worked well for us!

A Colgate couple always has a dilemma post-graduation: Will the relationship last in the ‘real world,’ outside of the Chenango Valley? To test this theory, Kelly decided to get her master’s degree at the University of Michigan while I moved back to Dallas. The intervening year involved a lot of phone calls and letters, and a couple of visits. At the end, she decided that this guy in Texas was worth it. Kelly packed up a Ryder truck and moved down to Dallas where she had secured a teaching job at a great local high school (where she still teaches today).

After a couple of years in Dallas, I proposed, and she said yes! When we started thinking about where to tie the knot, we both agreed that Colgate was the only choice.

On a very snowy day in November 1997, Kelly and I were married in the Colgate chapel. It was a Colgate wedding all the way through, with the rehearsal dinner at the Hamilton Inn and the reception at the Colgate Inn. The bridal party even closed down the Jug that evening!

Now, 18 years, two great kids, and lots of stories later, Colgate remains a very strong part of our lives. We ran the Colgate Club of Dallas for many years and have been active in admissions work. Kelly’s exceptional volunteer work got her nominated to the Alumni Council in 2005 where she served with distinction and earned a Maroon Citation. Due in no small part to her work on the council, I was nominated in 2010 and have enjoyed representing Colgate’s 33,000 alumni immensely.

Colgate is a very special place that has made an indelible mark on the two of us.

— Robert ’94 and Kelly Lehmann Johnson ’94

Are you a married Colgate couple? If so, we want to hear your love story, whether you had your first kiss on Willow Path or didn’t first meet until years after graduation. Tell us your story in 400 words or less, and send a (current or past) photo to: the Colgate Scene at or 13 Oak Drive, Hamilton, NY 13346.