The first installment on four longtime teachers that are retiring from the Philomath School District will be published in the June 5 edition. Mike and Diane Crocker are up first, followed by Terry Stephenson and then Cindy Graff.
I must say, it was fun talking to Diane and Mike. Over the past five-plus years on the Philomath beat, I’ve gotten to know Diane pretty well, primarily through concerts and the annual Veterans Day program that she orchestrates. Mike has always been more of someone to chat with during timeouts at a basketball game.
But it was interesting to get to know them better. I couldn’t fit into the story that I’ve written about them retiring a little about how they ended up getting married. Everybody has their interesting tidbits about how they met their significant other and fell in love but the Crockers story is unique.
At first, they didn’t like each other at all.
Both had graduated with degrees from Oregon State in 1981 and ended up starting teaching jobs at Philomath that same fall. They didn’t know each other in college, even though Diane’s sorority and Mike’s fraternity were located within a short walking distance on the Corvallis campus.
So they first became acquainted while at Philomath Middle School.
“Our first conversation was a fight over the gym because we didn’t have the auditorium then and that was my performance space,” Diane said. “And we were having an assembly and the band was playing and I said I needed to come in early to set up the band and ...”
“I said no.”
Diane ended up talking to the school’s principal, who had to explain things to Mike.
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“I did not like her after that for a while,” Mike admits.
So when did the romance start?
Mike said he couldn’t quite remember exactly.
“I remember everything,” Diane said quickly.
Mike usually volunteered to be the deejay for school dances and one occasion, he got a gift card for dinner.
“He was coaching everything and I was doing music and drama and neither one of us had a life outside of school and he had this gift card and he didn’t know what to do with it,” Diane remembers. “He said, ‘do you want to go have dinner?’ And I said, ‘I guess so.’”
It took several dates before they got to know each other better and really hit it off.
“The fight over the gym was the first year and the second year was the gift certificate and we ended up dating four years into teaching,” Diane reviewed. “We were just very, very different and we continue to be and that’s OK.”
They were married in 1985, had four children together and now look forward to doing some new things during full-time retirement.
Best wishes to the Crockers. I know they plan to do some subbing from time to time so perhaps we’ll see you around the hallways or at the ballgames.