This story is part of our occasional series called Detroit Mercy Moments, which retells stories of the unique history of University of Detroit, Mercy College of Detroit and University of Detroit Mercy and the place each institution affected lives in ways large and small. If you have a Detroit Mercy Moment to share, please click here www.udmercy.edu/faculty-staff/marcom/requests/moments.
Detroit Mercy’s McNichols Campus holds a special place in the hearts of its alumni, of course, but because of its long history in the community, it is also at the center of cherished memories for many who didn’t attend classes there.
Jim Strand and his wife, Ruth, are perfect examples. He recently called the University because he wanted a photograph of Our Lady of Lourdes Chapel from its early days, before it became what is now the Gardella Honors House. He was connected with Pat Higo, Archives and Special Collections librarian, who found one in the McNichols library collections and sent it to him.
Strand had a special reason, he wanted a unique gift for Ruth on their 52nd anniversary. The Lourdes Chapel, he said, is where he proposed and she accepted.
“I always had good memories of the campus,” he said. “I went to University of Detroit Jesuit and wanted to go to University of Detroit but I couldn’t afford the tuition. But I would usher football games and we would go to events on campus.” It was after one of those events — a sock hop in the 1960s — that he and Ruth met.
“We met at the University of Detroit Pizzeria, but that doesn’t exist anymore,” he said. “I was there with a friend and she was there with a friend and we sat down and started talking. We dated for a while, then broke up for a while, and then got back together.”
When they realized they wanted a future together, Jim started looking for a place to propose. “I wanted a place that meant something to us and the pizzeria didn’t seem too romantic,” he said. He chose the chapel — which was just across Livernois from the pizzeria and popped the question one September night. They were married just under a year later at Precious Blood Church in Detroit.
The couple have four children — one who earned a nursing degree from Detroit Mercy — and 11 grandchildren. The two are retired and living in Howell. Jim’s 52nd anniversary gift to her is a grouping of three framed photos, two of Precious Blood Church and one of the Lourdes Chapel.
He said she liked it.