The Ripley’s love story

'Love and commitment are such treasures'

With love in the air and Valentine’s Day around the corner, couples often look back on their relationships and reminisce. Over 27 years ago, the love story of Dean and Wendy Ripley, of Williamsport, began at Celebrity Waiter Night, also known as Guest Waiter Night, at the Peter Herdic House as they both worked the event together.

At Guest Waiter Night, “friends, neighbors and colleagues” raise money for a charity throughout the evening, Wendy said. “Guest waiters were supported by a waiter/waitress. We would help the guest waiter take orders and serve.”

This year, Celebrity Waiter Night will be held on March 22, said Gloria Miele.

The Peter Herdic House asked Dean Ripley if he would be interested in working at the event as a waiter and he said he would only if he could do it for the company he worked for at the time, Dean said. Dean had gags planned out for the night and some of his co-workers from the plant were there to help him out.

Dean was originally not working with Wendy that evening, he said. After putting in the drink order, his waitress quit on him.

“What I did end up doing then is another waitress helped get the orders out,” Dean said. “I was bringing out anything I could of as gags, and we were all laughing and having a great time and the waitress that ended up helping me turned out to be my wife.”

“It was a very fun night. We laughed so much. I remember walking to the kitchen after making the salad and thinking ‘I’m going to marry him,’ “ Wendy said.

The couple knew one another for a year prior before the Dean asked Wendy out on a date. At the time, Wendy was in her late 20s and Dean in his early 30s, she said. At that point in their lives, individually, they were done with “dating life.”

“I knew Dean for a year as a customer and thought that he was nice, kind, respectful, fun and handsome. Dean says that he thought I was very young looking and pretty,” Wendy shared when looking back on their first impressions of one another.

Though, the dinner was their initial meeting, Dean said. After the event, one of his co-workers told Dean to ask Wendy out. He ended up doing just that, they then dated for six months and got engaged.

At the time of the proposal, Dean had a work convention in Flagstaff, Arizona, and after the convention, he had a couple of extra days, he said. Wendy came out with him and they took a ride out to the Grand Canyon.

As Dean was driving, Wendy kept telling him he was going too fast and he had to stop at five different places before he had the chance to ask her to marry him, Dean said. Considering he is a jokester, at first Wendy said no and told Dean to be serious.

So Dean went to the gift shop, bought a 0.99-cent Indian beaded ring and Wendy said yes to marrying the love of her life, Dean shared.

“I was very surprised when Dean proposed and thought he was kidding. He had to convince me that he was serious. He teases and jokes around so often that sometimes you don’t know when he is serious,” Wendy said.

The two ended up getting married at Clarke Chapel at Lycoming College on Aug. 8, 1992. They have now been married for 27 years, Dean said. Wendy attended college at Lycoming.

Dean supports and encourages Wendy and is happy for her when she achieves her goals, she shared. Dean is funny and makes Wendy laugh. Wendy is a tough, loyal and committed wife, and he loves seeing her smile daily, he added.

“I think that a happy, healthy relationship is one where both people want the best for each other and are encouraging,” Wendy said.

“Communication is the key,” Dean said. “Communication has been something that we’ve worked at. We both had to learn to listen as much as we talked,” the two added.

Wendy is a native of Williamsport and Dean is from Coldwater, Michigan, she said. Dean moved to the area to work at Keystone Veneers, his step-father’s business.

Now, Dean and Wendy Ripley have two sons — Nathan, 20, and Nicholas, 23. One of their sons is currently studying law in Washington, D.C., and the other is attending school in Philadelphia at Temple University.

The Peter Herdic House has now become a frequent stop for the Ripley family since Dean and Wendy Ripley met, Dean said.

“I don’t remember how old I was the first time I heard the story, but I always felt at home there — like I was visiting the home of a glamorous relative. The clanging dishes and Victorian details made me feel important, like I was dining in a kind of history that was at once preserved and lively. Every time we went there, we were greeted by name and treated like part of the family,” Nicholas Ripley said about his memories at the Peter Herdic House.

Marcia and Gloria Miele at the Peter Herdic House were always friendly and accommodating to Wendy when she waitressed there, Wendy said. The two were supportive of Wendy as she was in college and were positive role models for running a business.

“We’re grateful that we met in such a fun and romantic setting as the Herdic House,” Wendy said. “Love each other and honor your commitment. Years later, when you are older, love and commitment are such treasures.”