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Rackham Sweethearts: Bob and Bonnie Paine

Bob and Bonnie Paine

Like many families, the Paines have a longstanding Michigan legacy. “I’ve been associated with Rackham since starting graduate studies in Chemistry in 1966. My wife and two of our children also graduated from Michigan.”

While they’ve resided in Albuquerque for the last forty-two years where Bob was on the faculty at the University of New Mexico, he says “We come back to Ann Arbor every fall. It is such a great time to be in town. We always visit the farmers market and buy greens for the holidays.”

He has connections to many spaces on campus, but few hold a candle to the Rackham reading room, which Bob and Bonnie re-visited on a recent trip to Ann Arbor. “It was 47 years ago, and I was sitting here, studying on a cold Saturday evening in early November.” Bob indicated to a soft green chair in front of an old oak table. “I looked up and saw this beautiful girl across the reading room. That was it for me.” At the time, Bob was a Ph.D. student in Chemistry and his bride-to-be, Bonnie, had completed a bachelor’s degree in zoology and was a second year U-M M.B.A. student. She received that M.B.A. the next May and they were married in Rogers City, Michigan in August. “It was a Michigan love affair.”

The Reading Room of the Rackham Building today
The Reading Room of the Rackham Building today.

Now when they come back to campus, Bob is thrilled to see the vibrancy of graduate life. “You’re generating the cream of the crop with graduate education, developing leaders of the country and training the very best at Michigan. To me it was clear, as time went by, that Rackham was developing a stronger connection to the schools and students. In recent years Rackham has changed and the Dean has been more proactive in reaching alumni. I think it is wonderful.”

As active alumni, the Paines are also dedicated donors to U-M. “For us, giving back to the University is very important. We give it all to Michigan. Saving students from having to do a lot of non-pertinent work to support themselves, if we can help in that way, that’s what we want to do.” It makes Bob want to support current students however he can. His advice for students is, “Work hard and love every minute of it. This is the best period of your life.” And for Bob and Bonnie, it was the beginning of a lifetime together.