A Truman Family Tree Takes Root

Warner Family

The Warner family had children attending Truman for 14 consecutive years. Pictured, from left: Sarah and husband Ryan; John, holding son William, with wife Kendra; Dan with wife Jackie; and parents Mary and Ted with youngest daughter Colleen.

Thousands of romantic comedies all have one thing in common. No matter the odds, the couples always end up together. For three members of the Warner family, their stories share one more dynamic. They all met and married a significant other from Truman.

Ted and Mary Warner had no ties to Truman, but they encouraged their oldest daughter Sarah to consider the school during her college search. Little did they know they were starting their family on a path that would last more than a dozen years and net them several new additions.

“We had heard good things about it, both from friends whose kids had gone to Truman and from her school guidance counselor,” Ted said.

Sarah came to Truman in 2002, forever changing the course of her family history. Within 10 years, siblings John, Dan and Colleen would follow, and the three older Warners would eventually find their spouses on campus. Although the stories of their relationships all share a Truman connection, how they got to their happy endings are each unique.

For Sarah Warner Tichenor (’06) and husband Ryan Tichenor (’06), their story hinges on some happy accidents. They met during the interview process for the Student Activities Board, and if not for a bag of marshmallows and some flakey friends, their lives may have been entirely different.

“SAB asked interviewees to bring an object to describe themselves, and Ryan forgot to bring one,” Sarah said. “He realized this when he sat down next to me and inquired as to why I had a bag of marshmallows, and then panicked because he had forgotten his.”

With no time to spare, Ryan raced to the Student Union Building and grabbed a newspaper to use as his item. It worked, and they both made the cut. They became friends through SAB, but their relationship did not begin in earnest until after their time at Truman. Sarah went to graduate school at St. Louis University, and when Ryan was moving back for a summer internship, he contacted Sarah and invited her to get together with some mutual friends.

“They backed out of our planned happy hour, so Ryan and I had our first date,” Sarah said.

Not long after that, the two began dating. They have been married since 2010 and welcomed their first child, Elle, in April.

John Warner (’09, ’10) may have followed in his sister’s footsteps by coming to Truman, but his relationship journey with wife Kendra (Kirk) Warner (’09) was entirely different. The two lived across from one another in Centennial Hall.

“Plans for my college career at Truman did not include meeting my wife the day my parents dropped me off,” John said. “But meeting her really shaped my whole college experience, and I can’t imagine it any other way.”

By December of their freshman year, John and Kendra were officially dating and have been together ever since, even while Kendra attended graduate school at Missouri State University in Springfield.

“When it came time to graduate, and we were looking at three years of long distance relationship, I didn’t once think that it wouldn’t work,” Kendra said. “I just knew it was going to be one small part of our lifelong relationship.”

The two were married in 2012 and welcomed their first child, William, in 2014.

In comparison to John and Kendra’s traditional love story, the case of Dan Warner (’12) and Jackie Kinealy (’12) seems to be one of free spirits that happened to find each other.

Jackie earned her history degree in four years, but decided to stay at Truman another two years and pick up a degree in communication as well. It was during that fifth year that she met Dan when he hired her to work at the Index. A year later they began dating after working together on a story for the paper.

“After college, I honestly didn’t have a plan,” Jackie said. “I wanted to move around for a while and explore the West, which Dan and I did together.”

Following graduation, Jackie lived in Denver, Colo., for about a year before moving to Twin Falls, Idaho, where Dan was working as a newspaper reporter. The proximity to the Snake River Canyon and Sawtooth Mountains provided ample opportunities for camping and hiking. A cross-country move to Northampton, Mass., located between Boston and the Berkshire Mountains, gave the couple new grounds to explore.

In October 2015, they got married and moved back to St. Louis to be close to family. Dan runs his own video production company, Fat Chance Media, and Jackie is a certified yoga teacher.

Colleen Warner (’15, ’16), the fourth and final sibling, kept up the family tradition of attending Truman. She was in the third grade when Sarah set the family plan in motion.

“Since then, I think I just had it in the back of my mind that I would come to Truman as well,” Colleen said. “When I first came here as a student I remember walking by Ryle and having déjà vu remembering the exact door I carried her stuff through to move her in.”

It is yet to be seen if Colleen will end up carrying on the other Warner family tradition of marrying a significant other from Truman. For now, her graduation marks the end of an era. At least one Warner child was enrolled at the University for 14 consecutive years.

“It’s been a great experience for our kids,” Mary said. “They’ve learned and grown so much during their college years. I think we can all look back at this time with special appreciation.”

Several years will pass before William and Elle will be next wave of Warners to start looking at colleges. Considering the number of family members who attended Truman, they may receive a few unsolicited suggestions as to where they should go.

“That will be their decision,” Ted said, “But I’m sure the next generation will get strong recommendations from their parents and grandparents to go to Truman.”

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