Couple found love at Kent State nearly three decades ago

Allison Smith

Their first date was at the Kent State Folk Festival in 1981.

Almost 29 years ago, in early 1981, a mutual friend introduced Jennifer Salter and Tim Bent. Now married with two children and living outside of Nashville, Tenn., they consider Kent State to have had a huge influence on their lives.

Jennifer, a native of Lakewood, was in her senior year as an industrial arts and education major. She was originally an art major, but decided she liked to build things more, so she switched.

“I didn’t like just drawing, I liked to make things and build things, and that’s what industrial arts is,” Jennifer said. “It’s designing and then creating and building projects.”

Tim had come to Kent State from Ashtabula and was in his sixth year at Kent State when he met Jennifer. He was double majoring in geology and conservation. Tim said one of his favorite professors, Richard Heimlich, called him up a couple of months ago. Heimlich still teaches as a professor emeritus at Kent State.

“Kent gave me an incredibly good foundation for geology,” Tim said. “Heimlich was one of the reasons I made it through geology, he kind of inspired me.”

Their first date was at the Kent State Folk Festival on Feb. 28, 1981.

“It was an awesome show back then,” Tim said.

“Afterward we went dancing at the Robin Hood,” Jennifer said. “And that was our first date.”

Jennifer and Tim said they enjoyed hiking and outdoor activities and frequented parks like Towner’s Woods and Nelson Ledges. Of course, they also enjoyed life in Kent and loved to go dancing at Ray’s Place.

“Upstairs was where they had live music and stuff,” Tim said. “People would be up there dancing and literally the ceiling in Ray’s would be moving up and down.”

After graduation, they moved to Oklahoma where Tim worked in the oil industry, and Jennifer got a job teaching industrial arts in the Oklahoma City school district.

“I taught industrial arts for four years,” Jennifer said. “And then went on to use my degree to work in the hardwood lumber industry for another four years.”

On December 29, 1984, Tim and Jennifer were married, but Jennifer said they always celebrate their anniversary on the day of their first date: Feb. 28.

“Since then it’s like, ‘Oh what were we thinking?’ We got married four days after Christmas and everybody’s still in the Christmas mode,” Jennifer said. “We go out and celebrate on the 28th of February because we’re usually still full from Christmas.”

Jennifer said she thinks Kent State offered her the best opportunities. She drove a bus on campus and because of that she was able to get a job as a tour bus driver for Yellowstone National Park and she also drove the hockey team to Buffalo for games.

“It’s such a pretty college town, now that we’ve been out there and seen so many more,” Jennifer said. “It was a great college, we both really benefited and grew up there.”

Tim said he loved everything about Kent State and has happy memories from his time there.

“We share fond memories of Kent and it’s great going back there every now and then,” Tim said. “That doesn’t happen very often, but that’s where we got started and we’re still going strong.”

Contact features reporter Allison Smith at [email protected].