The trouble was, Margie’s car wouldn’t start. It was a frigid day at the University of Richmond in January 1963, and she desperately needed to get to class. Her friend and classmate Bill Ventura offered to give her a lift, but the cold had immobilized his car as well. In desperation, she called her friend Linda, who volunteered to chauffeur her. Bill gallantly offered to keep them company on the short trip, and eight months later, Linda and Bill were married.

From that fortuitous beginning, the Venturas have made a point of keeping the University prominent in their lives. Both of them agree it was “love at first sight” upon seeing the campus for the first time.

“I’m from Bluefield and grew up in Lexington,” says Linda, “and ever since I visited UR at age twelve, it was the only place I thought about and could imagine attending.” Bill hails from New Jersey, and he was taking a swing through the South as a high-schooler considering collegiate athletic programs. “We stopped by Richmond on our way back,” he recalls, “and I fell in love with the place.”

A football player and track-and-field athlete, Bill majored in history with a biology minor while balancing a demanding athletic schedule. After graduation, he embarked on a 30-year pharmaceutical industry career that took the Venturas to Maryland, Texas, New Jersey, Colorado and Hong Kong before they jumped at the opportunity to return to Richmond.

Linda studied theatre initially, eventually majoring in English. But after the wedding, she missed out on her final semester as the couple packed up and shipped out to Baltimore. They didn’t come back to stay until 1991.

But even before the Venturas returned to Richmond, the University was never far from their minds. “We absolutely love Richmond,” says Bill. Linda remarks, “We always maintained our ties here and kept in touch with our classmates.”

Keeping up the family tradition, their daughter Lisa completed the Culinary Arts Program Certificate offered through SCS. Son Bill played football as a Spider, and he and his wife Pam are both 1992 UR graduates. Now he’s in the pharmaceutical business – truly following in his father’s footsteps.

Once Bill and Linda moved back for good, the next chapter in their Richmond odyssey unfolded.

“I had wanted to finish my degree forever, and I didn’t need many more hours, but I just never seized the opportunity,” Linda explains. “Finally, Bill convinced me to take a look at SCS. ‘Oh, I’m too old,’ I protested, and I was truly terrified. But everything fell into place and it’s the most wonderful thing I’ve ever done! Short of my children and husband, of course,” she adds, patting Bill’s arm.

“Coming back to UR through SCS was thrilling for me,” Linda says. “It brought me into the 21st century:  now I can relate to my seven grandkids. SCS is such a hidden jewel, and I can’t praise it enough.” In 2004, forty years after her intended graduation date, Linda Ventura received her University of Richmond diploma.

That was the just the beginning, as the Venturas quickly made up for lost time. Both are members of the Richmond chapter of the Osher Lifelong Learning Institute, and now Linda even teaches classes for the organization. “Osher keeps us on top of things and our minds sharp,” Linda says.

She’s also served on the Friends of Boatwright Memorial Library executive council on and off over the past nine years, currently as president. Bill has donated time and expertise to the Osher Institute advisory council since 2005, its second year on the Richmond campus.

They both attend Spider football and basketball games religiously, and the University seems to be an important part of their life. In mock horror, Linda is quick to correct that notion. “It is our life!” she exclaims. “We don’t ever stray very far away. Why would we leave? We’d just keep coming back here all the time!”

In all seriousness, Linda enthusiastically praises the University. “It’s been a wonderful association,” she says. After years as undergraduates, as adults and alumni returning to school, and now as Osher members, the Venturas have experienced so much of what the University of Richmond has to offer. Linda sums it up best when she says, “It’s not just a place where we went to school – we’re so blessed to have it instrumental in our lives.”