Assistant Spectrum Editor
Dale and Susan Brumfield celebrated their 25th wedding anniversary this past January. However, their story began thirty years ago, when the pair was brought together through the Commonwealth Times.
The Brumfield’s met in fall of 1985– soon after Susan then Susan Gross– began working as the advertising production editor for the Commonwealth Times. The couple is separated by five years in age.
Though Dale graduated with a B.F.A. in painting and printmaking in 1981, Susan did not receive her degree in mass communications until 1986.
Post-graduation, Dale continued frequenting the Richmond area as a participant in the local art scene. Using his mechanical skills, the freelance artist struck a deal with multiple successive editors of the Commonwealth Times. Brumfield maintained the publication’s equipment in exchange for use of the copier, which he used to publish mostly fake periodicals meant to fool readers.
Dale and Susan met through the Commonwealth Times, but it wasn’t love at first sight. Susan often saw her future husband at parties, and recalls appreciating his humorous personality, but she didn’t really think he was “her type.”
“He really could care less about clothes (and) dressing,” she said. “He wasn’t like the suit-and-tie guy at all that I… saw myself with. He was much more the artistic type.”
One day, Susan found one of Dale’s design cards in her mailbox with a pickup line that read: “Sue, give me a call, it’s cheaper than buying one.” She still wasn’t sure if she would give him a shot.
One 45-minute phone call later, she declined his invitation to see the Woody Allen film “The Purple Rose of Cairo,” because she had the evening shift at a local hospital. Weeks later when then-news editor Amy Satterthwaite casually revealed that she saw the film with Dale instead, Susan started to reciprocate Dale’s advances.
The couple’s first official date happened a month later, during a weenie roast that took place during the Kentucky Derby on May 4, 1986.
Susan, who lived at home at the time, still recalls her mother’s reaction as she was leaving the house. “I just remember her saying, ‘Why is he 25 years old and what is a weenie roast? You’re not going to a weenie roast.’”
The couple dated during the summer of ’86 and became exclusive the following fall. When the pair visited Nags Head, N.C. together in September, Susan was already thinking about marriage.
“Things just went together really fast… I was just like,‘This is really going somewhere,’” Susan said of the trip. “I was thinking then… it seemed like it would work out.”
One Sunday morning in February,
Susan was reading the paper when the couple’s cat was suddenly catapulted out of the bedroom of Dale’s apartment on Boulevard and sprinted under the television stand. Something glittery on its collar caught Susan’s eye.
“I had to drag her out–and that cat did not want to come out,” she said. “But, you know, when a girl sees a ring, she’s pretty determined… I knew she had something that I thought belonged to
The couple married in January of 1987. A number of their friends made through the Commonwealth Times were present at the wedding, including Satterthwaite, who ended up as a bridesmaid.
The couple’s fraternal twins, Hunter and Jake, were born on Dec. 19, 1991. Their third child, Hollis, was born three years later.
Thirty years after his parents met, Hunter Brumfield is pursuing his B.F.A. in film at VCU.
“I decided to go to VCU because of its highly ranked art program,” Hunter said. “…It was the only school that I actually applied to… plus the fact that my parents went here.”
Currently, Dale is also a graduate student in VCU’s creative writing program. The family is on track to have six degrees from VCU.
Jake is pursuing an interdisciplinary public relations and political science degree at J. Sargeant Reynolds Community College, but intends to transfer to VCU next semester. Hollis attends American University, but is also considering transferring to VCU. .
“They’re so close, they’re almost like triplets,” Susan said of her children. “We kind of look at them as the one great thing we’ve done with our lives. We’ve been really fortunate.”
Hunter said he and Jake occasionally read the Commonwealth Times, but neither has any interest in working for the paper.
Either way, its place is already cemented in their family history.