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New residents share their secret to love and marriage

For Dick Schowen, the secret to successful married life is simple.

“Dick says his secret to a long and happy marriage is to do what his wife says,” explained his wife, Barbara Schowen. “Actually, he is very easygoing, good-humored, and easy to live with. I’d like to say my secret is patience and good humor, but I don’t always succeed. I’ve always admired Dick’s kindness, his mind and love of learning — and from him I’ve learned a lot.”

Their “secrets” have worked for the past 58 years, with no sign of failing now.

“We met in graduate school at (the Massachusetts Institute of Technology),” Barbara said. “Dick was two years ahead of me and a grad student in the lab directed by a professor I was interested in working with. As I was waiting to speak to the professor, Dick offered me a seat and we got to talking. He says that’s when he decided I was ‘it.’ Meanwhile, I was having too much fun dating lots of different people, which is easy to do if you are one of the few ‘girls’ in the rather male-dominated department. But about six months in, we were dating regularly.”

Barbara and Dick moved to Lawrence in 1963 after getting married. Dick was offered a position as an assistant professor in the University of Kansas chemistry department. Barbara finished her dissertation and took a position teaching chemistry down the road at Baker University. She remained there until 1977, when she began teaching chemistry at KU.

Their two daughters were born and raised in Lawrence, graduating from Lawrence High School before moving on to their own careers. One daughter lives in Louisiana and the other lives in North Carolina. Together, the couple has four grandchildren ranging in ages from 15 to 22.

Dick retired from KU in 2000 as a distinguished professor of chemistry, pharmaceutical chemistry, and molecular biosciences. Barbara retired in 2003 after seven years as half-time director of the KU honors program. Barbara’s work involved teaching and advising undergraduates as well promoting undergraduate research. Both Dick and Barbara carried out research in bioorganic chemistry.

Since moving to Lawrence Presbyterian Manor in August, the couple has found their new townhome comfortable and the residents and staff friendly and helpful.

Throughout the years, Dick and Barbara have enjoyed traveling the world, including China, Africa, New Zealand, Greece, France, India, Taiwan and Mexico. They enjoyed learning about each country’s art, history and culture.

They continue to remain active with their hobbies and volunteer efforts. Barbara is a member of the University Women’s Club and is active in its birding group. She’s also involved with a book group, a women’s study group, an investment group, and she serves on several boards. Dick enjoys concerts and musical events, and they both enjoy local and KU theater.

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