Darlene & Michael: Love and the New Car

Kathy Dean Alumni, Love Story Leave a Comment

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.”

About the Author
Kathy Dean

Kathy Dean

Kathy is an award-winning media relations director and former journalist whose expertise has enabled the University of Mobile to gain national and regional attention. She holds a Bachelor of Arts in Journalism from Auburn University and worked as a journalist for 12 years, including 10 years at the Mobile Press-Register, earning regional and national awards for coverage of education, deadline reporting and feature writing. She joined the University of Mobile staff in 1993, earning awards for writing and public relations including the Baptist Communicators Association grand prize for feature writing in 2015 and 2012. She is a charter member of Providence United Methodist Church, serves on the board of the John Will Scholarship Foundation, and is a member of the Public Relations Council of Alabama, Baptist Communicators Association, and Society of Professional Journalists. Kathy lives in Daphne with her husband, Chuck, who earned his M.B.A. from the University of Mobile. They have two children and two grandchildren.

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