Darlene Wilkins Smith and Michael Smith were commuter students who met during Michael’s senior year when they had two classes together.
“I was VERY shy and quiet back then, and he was a little afraid to approach me because he says he knew I was ‘out of his league’ (and still am, according to him!),” Darlene said. Michael finally got up the courage to ask her out – a date she accepted when his new car got her attention.
“Our first date was to his brother’s wedding rehearsal. I didn’t get invited to the wedding, though,” Darlene remembers. “He told me later that his family really liked me from the beginning, and his mom decided I was the one for him.”
On campus, they often met at the snack shop located at the south end of Weaver Hall.
“They had amazing French fries!” Darlene said.
When Michael graduated, he took a job in Memphis and commuted each weekend back to Mobile to see Darlene. They married June 11, 1983, and live in Mobile. Today, Darlene is assistant registrar at UM and Michael is a programmer/analyst. Darlene’s mother, retired UM administrator Doris Wilkins, earned her bachelor’s degree from the school. Three of their five children graduated from UM, a fourth will graduate in May, and their youngest, 12, is planning to follow in the family tradition.
One year during his college career, Michael transferred to another college. He returned to University of Mobile because he enjoyed being in the small classes where faculty knew him.
“It felt like family here,” Michael said. “I also believe God led me back here so I would meet Darlene.”