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DeVitos celebrate 20 years of Valentine’s Day vows

University of Kentucky employees David and Allyson DeVito pose for a portrait on Wednesday, Feb. 7, 2024 at the University of Kentucky campus in Lexington, Kentucky. The DeVito’s are coming up on their 20th wedding anniversary, which falls on Valentine’s Day. Photo by Sydney Yonker | Staff

University of Kentucky senior lecturer Allyson DeVito and husband David DeVito, UK assistant dean for predoctoral clinical affairs, have what some could say an “untraditional” wedding anniversary date — Valentine’s Day. 

And what could make their anniversary even more special than being on the most loved-filled day of the year? Allyson and David are celebrating 20 years of marriage this holiday.

It all began back in freshman year of college at the University of Florida when a familiar face from the 9th grade science fair rekindled a friendship with Allyson that introduced her to her future husband David.

The couple quickly became a part of the same friend group and met for the first time at a football game when they were seated in the same block, though at the time, David was dating who Allyson called ‘his high school sweetheart.’ 

Over time, the complicated college love stories prevailed, their friend group lessened and the two were left single, spending more time together and, soon enough, dating.

Just two years after dating in August 2002, David surprised Allyson with an engagement ring in front of Lake Alice on the UF campus after faking a flat tire and needing to check the trunk.

“I didn’t know what was going on, and then he kind of has this look on his face, (I’m like) ‘What is happening here? Nothing is wrong with the car.’ So I kind of suspected, and then I kind of knew that he was in the process of proposing, but it was perfect because he surprised me,” Allyson said.

In no rush to get married and not one who had planned her wedding as a child, Allyson said they took their time until they realized they needed to set a date. The couple said that they were trying to find a middle ground between their birthdays, that way neither of them would get shorted on gifts, David joked. And surely enough, Feb. 14, 2004 fell into their laps.

“We just decided why not make it Valentine’s Day, that’s the whole point of Valentine’s Day right?” Allyson said. “(It’s) to express your love for someone else. And yes, it’s an easy date to remember, but it’s also kind of neat to say ‘Yeah our anniversary is on Valentine’s Day.’”

That being said, an anniversary on a national, love-crazed holiday has led the couple to enjoy the small moments and created a tradition of making dinner at home rather than going out over the last 20 years.

“To cook at home and just kind of do that as an alternative, that’s kind of fun too. I like that element,” David said. “It’s just nice because it’s relaxed. You can just kind of have a nice evening together and talk and drink a bottle of wine, you know, nice stuff, without any kind of outside pressure.”

It was after learning how to cook through his family and cookbooks that David found his passion for being in the kitchen, and the couple began shying away from the busy dinner scene. This year, David said, he plans on making crab cakes.  

“It puts a time table on life, and I think as we’ve continued in our marriage, I don’t necessarily like that as much,” David said. “I kind of like the relaxing cup of coffee in the morning and kind of hanging out more so than I like the real structured things. I kind of just like the living more.”

Aside from her love for David’s cooking, Allyson values their shared moments of laughter — in which David is appreciative that she laughs at his jokes — and the kindness with which he treats everybody. 

“David could literally be in the room with the richest person in the world or someone who literally walked in off the street and had nothing, and he would treat them both the same, he would have a conversation with them both, he can find something to talk about with anybody,” Allyson said.

Allyson also expressed her gratitude for the support he’s played in her life through the last few years, during which she’s faced several personal struggles.

During the first 17 years of their marriage, Allyson’s mother made it a tradition to send joint Valentine’s Day and wedding anniversary cards to the couple, Allyson adding that “it was like her mission” every year.

“Believe it or not, Hallmark makes cards, ‘cause my mother would get them every year wishing you a happy Valentine’s Day anniversary,” Allyson laughed. “My mom would pride herself on, like someone who had a birthday on Halloween, she would find a combo card, and so they have combo Valentine’s Day (wedding) anniversary.”

It was shortly into March 2021 when the annual cards were no longer being delivered in their mailbox after Allyson’s mother died from a rare and aggressive form of cancer. Only six weeks later, her aunt died, and the following year in December 2022, her father died from pancreatic cancer.

“If it had not been for David, I don’t know, it would have just been very dark,” Allyson said. “Just having someone there to share in that grief, it’s true what they say, ‘In sickness and in health, in good times and bad,’ I could not have imagined going through the past four years without David.”

Akin to her emotions, David said Allyson has supported him throughout his career changes and eventually steered them into a tale of two UK faculty members being in love across campus.

“She’s things that I’m not. She sort of finishes me off in a lot of really positive ways,” David said. “So she has the attributes and things to help me and sort of make me a better person.”

And so he noted that a relationship is more than just one person’s efforts and something to be recognized as a partnership. 

“Without her, the whole projection of who I am and what I do wouldn’t exist,” David said. “It just wouldn’t be.”

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