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The student news site of Marquette University

Marquette Wire

The student news site of Marquette University

Marquette Wire

Pragma: Marquette college sweethearts

Jamie and Ann Keiper celebrate their wedding after meeting each other at Marquette several years prior.

Picture this: you’re walking down Wisconsin Avenue, headed to the Raynor Library when you lock eyes with the love of your life. You walk past them, offer a gentle smile, try to play it cool and as soon as you are far enough away to turn around and look at them, you do. They don’t turn around but after a few weeks of continuously walking past this person, you both look back at each other. Soon after, you send flowers to the place they live on Valentine’s Day and sign a card — without your name — that states, “From someone who can’t seem to get any closer than a distant hello.”

Sounds like a plot from any romcom, right? You’d be surprised to know that this is the real Marquette love story of John and Tracy Haberkorn, Class of ’82. Unlike most romcoms, when John Haberkorn sent flowers to Tracy Haberkorn, who at the time was Tracy Clemence, it was not the firework moment he thought it would be.

“I figured she would know who it was, so I waited for a call, but she obviously had no idea who it [the flowers] came from,” John said

Eventually, they see saw each other in person a few weeks later. John worked up the courage to greet Tracy and the rest is as they say: history.

Since college, John and Tracy Haberkorn have been married for close to 38 years and have six children — five of which graduated from Marquette and three of the five, who too, have Marquette spouses.

Building the family they did, came with unforeseen challenges.

“We had difficulties with having children. There were several miscarriages and we were looking into adoption…But by the grace of God, we had six…Thank God we had our faith in those difficult years. It really worked out for the best for us,” Tracy said.

Distance was also a challenge but played a major role in knowing that the relationship was serious.

“You know they always say, absence makes the heart grow fonder. He was from the Chicagoland area and I was from the Milwaukee area, and he left town junior year for the summer and it was hard. We wrote letters back and forth — letters we still have,” Tracy said.

Jamie and Ann Keiper, class of ’92, know the phenomenon of “absence makes the heart grow fonder” all too well.

“I was making drives from Georgia all the way to Milwaukee just for a long weekend. I would drive all the way back just to see her and at that point, I knew, I couldn’t live without her,” Jamie said. He was making these drives due to being in the military.

Jamie and Ann Keiper met their first year at O’Donnell Hall, which at the time, was women-only. Walking through the halls with a friend he’d met at orientation, they walked past a room of people his friend knows when he spotted Ann.

“I am going to marry that girl,” Jamie Keiper told his friend when they got home.

Since college, Jamie and Ann Keiper have been married for almost 30 years and had three children — the youngest is a sophomore on the Marquette women’s soccer team, Molly Keiper.

In February 2021, Ann Keiper was diagnosed with breast cancer. Because of this diagnosis, Jamie Keiper had a revelation about his marriage with her.

“My life doesn’t work without Ann … That’s definitely something that tests you and scares you, but thankfully everything worked out great,” Jamie said.

Although Ann knew the diagnosis would be difficult on Jamie, she also knew that together, they could get through it.

“When I first found out about the diagnosis, I knew that Jamie would be very worried, but also that he would be very supportive … In his usual way, he made me laugh when I needed it during recovery … laughter is the best medicine,” Ann said. “With any love story or good marriage, you never know how much time you have in life. So, you just have to appreciate and enjoy the moment.”

This story was written by Hope Moses. She can be reached at [email protected].

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About the Contributor
Hope Moses
Hope Moses, Executive Director

Hope Moses is a senior from Milwaukee, Wisconsin studying journalism and peace studies at the university and the Executive Director of the Marquette Wire for the 2023-2024 school year. Prior to this position, she served as the Editor of Diversity and Inclusion for the organization and the inaugural Foley Fellow for the James W. Foley Legacy Foundation. Outside of the Wire, she enjoys playing tennis, creating art and binge-watching tv shows.

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