Love Bricks

Published on September 20th, 2010

words_stephanie genuardi
design_tiffany agam

To commemorate and celebrate love found at the University of Miami, 208 bricks inscribed with messages like “Hap loves Sandy,” “It all began here” and “Best Thing Found at UM was U” lie in front of the Patti and Allan Herbert Wellness Center.

These “love bricks” are positioned in front of what was dedicated in November 2004 as “The Love Bridge” in honor of UM alumni Patti and Allan Herbert. The Herberts, who established an endowment for the Canes Health Assessment and Motivation Program (CHAMP), met and fell in love at UM. The money from a love brick purchase goes toward the CHAMP fund, a program designed to increase wellness among UM students by providing free fitness assessments.

In an issue exploring mysteries, we sought out the stories behind the bricks.

Patti Herbert met her husband of 52 years during her first week of classes at UM in The Miami Hurricane office. Allan Herbert was working on the staff, while also writing for The Ibis, and Patti was getting involved with business management.

The two did not immediately begin dating. In fact, it was on family vacations to California in 1956 that Patti and Allan reconnected.

“We rediscovered ourselves,” explained Allan.

After Allan finished his master’s degree and Patti finished her undergraduate degree, they married in 1958. The Herberts now have two children and two granddaughters.

“[UM] is the best place to fall in love. You know why that is? When you meet someone in college, you have a good idea of who they really are. You’re basically living with them or at least associating with them full-time,” said Allan.

He added, “It was a wonderful place back in the ’50s. It was a lot smaller. It was very easy to develop friendships. We have a number of our friends who met their future spouses here at UM.”

If you think the Herberts’ 52 years is impressive, meet the Specters.

Lionel Specter and his wife Barbara just celebrated their 54th wedding anniversary this past Christmas Eve.

Lionel, who served in the Korean War, had just been discharged from the air force when he arrived at UM. He was a junior and Barbara was a freshman.

“Somehow, we got together,” laughed Lionel, who 50 plus years later couldn’t quite recollect exactly how he and his wife met. “She thinks we were in a class together, but I don’t argue with her. It’s not worth it,” he joked.

Married in 1955, the Specters have four children and four granddaughters. With their current residence in New Mexico, they have not had the opportunity to visit their brick in person, but the Herberts were kind enough to send a picture.

The love bricks not only honor love between a husband and a wife; many parents have bought bricks to commemorate their love for their children or vice versa. Donna Shalala, for instance, purchased a brick in honor of her mother inscribed with the message “Edna C. Shalala Champion.” Others have purchased bricks to commemorate the friendships they built at UM.

This past homecoming, three men returned to campus to celebrate their 25 year reunion, as well as to celebrate the life of their best friend and UM roommate Ken Elmo with a love brick. Elmo passed away three years ago of colon cancer.

Shawn Elliot proudly described himself, Elmo, Mitch Toland and Glenn Rubin as the “original Entourage.” “The four of us were inseparable. We had so much fun,” Elliot said.

Elliot and Elmo met in nursery school, became best friends, lived together and were the best man in each other’s weddings.

“We shared our lives together. He was the nicest guy on the planet. There wasn’t a bad bone in his body,” said Elliot of Elmo, a 1984 graduate.

This past November, Elliot, Toland, and Rubin held a service on The Love Bridge to honor their best friend Ken Elmo. At the service, the three reminisced about what clubs they used to go to, where their favorite places were to grab a bite to eat and the allure of Commercial Boulevard in a time when South Beach was not so popular.

Elliot, whose father graduated from UM in ’49 and whose son is currently a sophomore, said UM has a “tremendous amount of meaning to us” and “[Elmo] was so special in my life.”

The brick for Elmo reads “Honoring Ken Elmo Always and Forever Shawn, Mitch, Glenn.”

If you’d like to permanently engrave your love outside the Wellness Center, contact Carmen Burgess at cburgess@miami.edu. Unfortunately, purchasing a love brick will put a significant dent in your wallet (a minimum $500 donation to the CHAMP fund is required), but you’ll get to join the ranks of “Monica we met here Will you make it Forever? Love Erik,” “Sweet Memories of Renee Nierob Perez Our Sunshine Girl” and “Tom & Maria (1963) Together Since Freshman English.”