Porter and Debbie Stiles, both Fairmont State alumni, have a deep affection for their alma mater; it’s where they earned their education, developed friendships and found meaningful careers. But perhaps most importantly, it’s where the couple, who has now been married for almost 35 years, first crossed paths in 1977.
“Debbie says we had a math class together, but I didn’t realize it,” said Porter. “So, I always joke around and tell everyone she must’ve been cheating off me.”
Debbie, who recently retired from Fairmont State after a long career as the budget director in the University’s Office of Administrative and Fiscal Affairs, certainly didn’t need help with her math assignments, but she did immediately take notice of her classmate, Porter, who seemed to command the attention of everyone he met.
“Everybody knew Porter,” said Debbie. “Teachers called him by name. He was the Falcon. The whole campus called him ‘Captain Crazy.’”
Though Porter left a lasting impression on Debbie, it wasn’t until five years later, in February of 1982, that the two would reconnect; this time, it was Debbie that caught Porter’s eye.
“A few of my friends and I had decided to spend an evening at a local hangout where Porter happened to work,” Debbie said. “As we were leaving, he yelled ‘Bye girls, come back soon!’”
Debbie and her friends did just that, and within a couple of weeks, she and Porter were attending a Fairmont State basketball game on their first official date.
“I still remember the energy of the game and how much fun we had,” said Debbie.
Three years later, on April Fool’s Day, Porter asked Debbie to marry him. Despite the date, Porter’s proposal was anything but a joke, and on August 16, 1986, the couple said their “I do’s.” The Stiles had a large wedding at Debbie’s hometown church in Littleton, W.Va, with friends and family, many of which were fellow Falcon alumni, by their sides.
Today, Debbie and Porter, who also retired from a professional career at Fairmont State after spending several years as a public school teacher, still reside in Fairmont where they raised their two daughters Victoria and Sarah.
“A lot of people think we’re Fairmont natives, but actually, we came here in the 1970s and just never left, said Porter. “Both of us being able to live in Fairmont and work at the University for the last 20 years afforded us valuable time together to raise a family and now spend time with our grandkids.”
For the Stiles, Fairmont State will always hold a special place in their hearts.
“We met at Fairmont State and to this day we continue to support all facets of the University and root for its success,” said Debbie.