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A spirit that is not afraid

Love on the Plains: the Auburn connection

Carol and Timothy Colbert together in present day.
Carol and Timothy Colbert together in present day.

One of Auburn’s deepest traditions is that students are continuously finding love within the Auburn family and instilling their love for Auburn into the next generation. Auburn’s vibrant campus has witnessed countless love stories that have transcended time and distance, lasting for years to come.

Whether it was in the Haley Center, a fraternity party or through mutual friends, Auburn alumni recount their first meetings with fondness, both for their alma mater and for their lifelong partners.

Rachael Wickliffe from Trussville, Alabama, studied wildlife ecology and management during her time at Auburn. Rachael and her husband, Gavin Wickliffe, met at a Delta Chi fraternity party where they instantly hit it off.

“It was like the typical college love story,” Rachael said.

Gavin added that he had seen Rachael around the house before but thought she was out of his league.

After getting to know one another, one thing led to another, and Rachael and Gavin started officially dating. Rachael graduated in 2017 and Gavin in 2019. The two got hitched in February of 2022.

Auburn alumni both young and old recount their fond memories in the Loveliest Village, reflecting on their time in Auburn and how it shaped their respective relationships.

Carol Colbert is from Montgomery, Alabama, and was a member of Auburn’s accounting class of 1974. Carol was an undergraduate student when she met her husband Timothy Colbert, a veterinary student, in the very heart of Auburn’s campus — the Haley Center.

“You know, we were going through the drop and add period and what have you, and I saw some fellas in Haley Center,” Colbert said.

At the time, she didn’t know that the group of boys were veterinary students.

As they had small talk, the boys invited her to their party that evening. 

“They were having a party in a trailer park on Wire Road that night and asked me if I wanted to come, and I said sure,” Carol said.

Before the end of the night, Timothy was asking one of his friends who Carol was.

Carol and Timothy went on their first date, which was a booming success, and the rest was history. The love birds got married on June 8, 1974, two days after Timothy graduated from Auburn’s School of Veterinary Medicine.

The Colberts had five children together, sent four of them to Auburn and are starting to see their grandchildren become Auburn Tigers.

“Now we’re starting a third generation. It’s wonderful. It’s been good, and God has taken care of us all along the way. There have been lots of ups and downs, like everybody’s life. But, I mean, we’ll bleed orange and blue our whole life,” Carol said. 

As couples reminisce on their simple beginnings on the Plains, many recall how blue and orange stars brought them together.

Jenny and Stan French met at Auburn in 1994. Jenny was studying nursing, and Stan was a pre-med student. Stan lived next to Jenny’s roommate’s boyfriend, and they were introduced not long after the start of their sophomore year.

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After the introduction, the pair realized they had both theater and anatomy classes together. Their theater class was seated alphabetically, where the two were placed next to each other.

Soon after, the two attended an Auburn basketball game together as their first date. This blossomed into a five-year relationship and an eventual proposal outside of the Beard-Eaves-Memorial Coliseum. Each milestone had a tie to the Auburn community, with Jenny reminiscing on each and every one of their great memories at Auburn.

Stan studied medicine at the University of Alabama at Birmingham, and the couple moved to Montgomery, Alabama, together where they still reside today.

The French family now consists of four children: Lauren, Hayley, Morgan and Luke. Lauren graduated from Auburn in May 2022 with a degree in biomedical sciences and a minor in French, while Hayley is a current Auburn student studying exercise science on the pre-physical therapy track.

With their younger two still in middle and high school, the Frenchs are doing everything they can to raise the next generation of Tigers, with Jenny adding that she “hopes Morgan and Luke will attend Auburn too.”

As couples continue to reminisce on their beginnings, it is evident that the Auburn connection runs deeper than the blue and orange hues that adorn Auburn’s campus. It is a connection that brings people together, forging bonds that last a lifetime and continue to inspire the next generation to become proud Auburn Tigers.

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