October 16, 2018
The first time they said their wedding vows on July 22, 1978, Gary ’77 and Mary Frank Honeman ’77 stood before their family and friends in a sweltering Little Baker Chapel and promised to devote their lives to one another. The late Ira Zepp ’52, an ordained Methodist minister and their former professor, officiated. He cautioned that it was easy to marry the person you love, but the hard work was in loving the person you marry.
And he encouraged them not to seek the elusive “happy” marriage, but to focus their efforts instead on practicing respect, trust, honesty, gratitude, fidelity, honor, kindness, patience and commitment.
Forty years later, the couple confirms that happiness is indeed the by-product of all that hard work and dedication. On July 22, they celebrated their journey together and pledged to keep it going with a vow renewal service back where it all began in Little Baker Chapel. Despite the heat outside, no one was sweating this time, thanks to the installation of air conditioning.
Gary ’77 and Mary Frank Honeman ’77, then and now.
The Honemans began dating the spring of their freshmen year. The details are fuzzy, but they think they went to Twin Kiss for a bite to eat or caught a movie at the old Carroll Theater. They discovered a lot in common — each grew up in military families, moved around between posts overseas and in the U.S., and had two older brothers. They were in the College’s first small cohort of Social Work majors and had many of their classes together. Professors Mary Ellen Elwell ’50 and Dan Rees were important mentors. Both struggled with their statistics and economics courses and say taking Social Liberation Movements with Zepp was life changing.
“We were both interested in social justice issues and this course got us even more interested,” Mary says. “It wasn’t just Ira up there lecturing. He really challenged us to go out into the community to look for experiences.”
They visited a new gay church in Baltimore during a time when homosexuality was taboo. They met with representatives of the Piscataway Indians and the American Indian Movement. A Grey Panther — the name given to advocates for the rights of senior citizens — was a guest lecturer in class. “Coming here and having the faculty that we did opened up a whole new world — and a new profession — for us,” Gary says.
Both dedicated their careers to public service in Carroll County, where they decided to put down roots and raise their two sons, now 35 and 33. Mary was hired right after graduation on a one-year grant from the Comprehensive Employment and Training Act for an agency now known as Change, where she ultimately built a 30-year-career working with adults with disabilities. Since retiring from that role, she has been the circulation clerk at the Westminster branch of the Carroll County Public Library — a job that also requires her social work skills, especially when dealing with the city’s homeless population.
Gary earned a Master’s in Social Work at University of Maryland and worked for various organizations and in private-practice counseling. He’s going into his 28th year at Carroll County Youth Services Bureau and also teaches part time at McDaniel.
After the vow renewal ceremony, the Honemans hosted a reception for their family and friends in the Social Work department (with help from professor Jim Kunz) on the third floor of Hill Hall. Among the alumni guests were Karen Zawacki Pillets ’77 and Lori Grimes Horton ’77, two of Mary’s former roommates who served as bridesmaids at the wedding. Horton’s husband, Mark ’77, was there, as well as Mary’s brother Jon Frank ’72 and his wife, Lonnie ’73.
Zepp liked to tell couples jokingly, “You’ve got to renew the contract every once in a while.”
The Honemans are happy they did it in such a big way this summer.
“I just have so much pride and love for our partnership and what we have created, certainly with our marriage, but also as parents to our boys and how as partners we have committed ourselves professionally to our community,” says Gary. “And that all started here.”