There is an age-old warning that dating a co-worker is a bad idea. But what about working with a spouse? Professors Wendy and Chuck Grieb and Cindy and Larry Abbott are two married couples who work at Cal State Fullerton. For them, it is working out just fine.
The Griebs both teach in the Department of Visual Arts at CSUF, instructing students how to draw and then how to bring those drawings to life.
“We actually met our very first day of college,” Chuck Grieb said. “And here we are, teaching animation to young people together, which is kind of fun.”
They both attended Edinboro University in Pennsylvania to pursue art degrees and got married right after Chuck Grieb finished his master’s degree in film production at USC.
The two wasted no time in compiling portfolios, making 24 copies of each of their portfolios and flying out to Southern California, where the heart of the animation industry beats.
The two dug up their original portfolios from a pile of artwork in Chuck Grieb’s office.
“What’s missing is there was a VHS cassette of animation velcroed to the front,” Chuck Grieb said. “I still show it to students because it’s humbling.”
The pair laughed as they recalled getting hit by another vehicle while commuting on their first day in California, but not letting the incident dampen their enthusiasm.
“She was actually in the process of finding a place for us to go to get medical attention and I’m like, ‘I’m going to Disney.’” Chuck Grieb said. “I had to tie the trunk shut, and I couldn’t look to the left.”
In the end, they both got jobs in California, Wendy Grieb with Film Roman, the studio that produces “The Simpsons,” and Chuck Grieb with Disney.
“So we had to finalize everything, get a moving truck, get everything loaded up, get in our car and drive across the country, and that’s what we did,” Chuck Grieb said.
They spent a few months living with the bare essentials. “We had nothing to sit on,” Wendy Grieb said. But they eventually settled into their California life.
Some years later, Chuck Grieb began teaching at CSUF, where Wendy obtained her graduate degree in illustration.
In 2013, when the visual arts department on campus looked to fill a position, Chuck Grieb encouraged Wendy Grieb to apply and she was hired.
“It was nice to have someone, regardless of the fact that I’m married to her, with her level of accomplishment and understanding come and speak to the students,” Chuck Grieb said.
When both people in a marriage work, the little time spent at home can affect their relationship, so working together has brought the couple closer together.
“I like being able to ride into work with him,” Wendy Grieb said. “It’s just nice to be able to see him during the day.”
Across the campus from these two artists are Cindy and Larry Abbott, who teach in the health science and kinesiology departments, respectively.
The pair, married for 25 years, also found their way to the school at different times. Though they are both CSUF alumni, they met at a police academy, where Cindy Abbott was a recruit and Larry Abbott was a drill instructor.
“I asked him to dance at our graduation party,” Cindy Abbott said. “He wouldn’t date a police officer, so that’s why I ended up going back to college … and it was actually the best thing, besides him, that ever happened to me.”
Cindy Abbott started teaching at CSUF in 1993 while working toward her master’s degree in kinesiology. She was surprised to discover how much she liked it, and continued on as a teacher after graduation
Larry Abbott first joined the faculty as a scuba diving instructor in 2001, but has since gone on to teach other classes.
“I enjoy the interaction, the learning process,” he said. “Because it’s more ‘learn by sharing’ than it is teaching.”
While they enjoy their jobs and work at the same university, most of the Abbotts’ adventures together occur during the long breaks from school.
“We’ve been around the world together doing a lot of pretty amazing things,” Cindy Abbott said. “On school breaks, we’d go climb some of the big mountains around the world, and up to a point, he was my climbing partner.”
Cindy Abbott is the only woman in the world who has both summited Mount Everest and finished the Iditarod sled-dog race in Alaska.
The pair shares a mutual respect and admiration for one another. While Larry Abbott insists that his wife is the interesting one, Cindy Abbott emphasizes how much it meant to have Larry Abbott’s support. From her training for the Iditarod thousands of miles away to when she was diagnosed with the rare disease Wegener’s Granulomatosis just after deciding to climb Mount Everest, Larry Abbott has always supported her.
“He’s been a really amazing husband through all that,” Cindy Abbott said. “I call it my journey. It’s our journey, actually. And he’s there all the way.”
Even as they talked about the lifetime of adventures they shared, both Abbotts looked ahead to the future.
“We’re probably closer now than we ever have been,” Cindy Abbott said.
“We are best friends, share most interests, are extremely dedicated to each other and fill each other’s voids,” Larry Abbott said. “If there’s is a stronger love, I’d be surprised.”