DOVER Josh Fisher, 34, is a Jewish Northerner; Mary Ann Fisher, 38, is a Catholic Southerner.
Forget their differences; the Dover couple said it’s a match made in heaven — and online.
“I think the main thing was, we were both ready to meet somebody and commit,” Josh said.
They met online in 2003 and married in 2006.
Josh, who grew up outside of Albany, N.Y., is the only art historian at Arkansas Tech University in Russellville.
“I started going to art museums when I was in high school,” he said.
He majored in art history at Middlebury College in Vermont and went to graduate school at the University of Georgia in Athens.
That’s when he met Mary Ann Bruss on a dating website.
“I’m not one for pickup lines. I’m not one who would make a great first impression,” Josh said. “One thing I can do is write well. … The format of online dating is really made for me.”
At the time she and Josh connected online, Mary Ann, who was born and raised in Tennessee, was living in Marietta, Ga., with her parents, who had moved there from Tennessee.
“I wasn’t really popular in high school,” she said.
A couple of years after she moved to Georgia, she tried online dating. A former assistant preschool teacher, she was working at PetSmart in Marietta.
She had a couple of dates from her online experience, but nothing clicked.
Mary Ann said she dated a man for about a year, someone who saw her at a grocery store and asked her out.
He wasn’t invested enough, or romantic enough, in the relationship, she said, and they ended up as friends.
She got back online and stumbled across a dating website that was unfamiliar to her, so she tried it.
Josh said he had done some online dating when he lived in New York.
But at the University of Georgia, “I figured I could meet fellow grad students, somebody that was my intellectual peer, someone I would have something in common with,” he said.
He knew after getting a master’s degree that he wanted to get a doctorate, and that would mean moving.
Josh said he had just broken up with someone he’d met online. He decided to give it “one more try” to meet someone before he moved from Georgia.
“I was fortunate to meet Mary Ann because she was somebody who didn’t have goals that conflicted with mine,” he said. “If it hadn’t worked out with her, I would have taken my profile off the website.”
Mary Ann said she sent out what was called “a smile” to a few guys on the website.
“Josh was the only one who responded to me,” she said.
They sent “pretty long emails” back and forth, Josh said.
Soon afterward, they met in the PetSmart parking lot, and Mary Ann was “very impressed,” she said.
“He never posted a picture on his profile, so when we actually met, I went by what he described himself to be,” she said.
“When he showed up in front of me, I said, ‘Oh, wow, this guy is really cute!’”
They went to lunch, to a book/movie store and to get ice cream, spending an afternoon together.
“We sat and we talked for a while, and sitting there and
talking to him, I felt like I’d known him forever,” Mary Ann said.
“It was so funny, because after the date had ended, I drove home, and I just knew he was going to be the one. I just had that feeling.”
Her parents warned her not to get her hopes up, but “we had so much in common,” Mary Ann said.
Before she was born, Mary Ann’s parents lived in Albany, where Josh had grown up. Their house at that time was just around the corner from where Josh’s father now lives.
Mary Ann’s mother had worked at a Veterans Administration hospital in Albany, and Josh’s father started working there a year after Mary Ann’s mother left.
“When I came home and told my parents he was from Albany, their jaws just dropped to the floor,” she said.
Soon after the couple started dating, Josh was accepted to the doctoral program in Iowa, and Mary Ann moved with him.
He proposed at the Antonin Dvorak monument in Spillville, Iowa, built to commemorate the Czech composer, who spent a summer there.
Josh didn’t get on one knee — he said he thinks it’s “silly” to beg your girlfriend to marry you.
He looked at his watch and said, “It’s time.”
“I thought it meant it was time for lunch because at the time, I was really hungry,” Mary Ann said, laughing.
He had a little box in his hand with a ring in it.
“One he proposed, I think he was crying. I was crying,” she said.
“I was totally surprised. I think I even told him ‘yes’ before he was even done asking. I was just so excited,” she said.
They were married in a Catholic ceremony June 2006 at the church in Knoxville, Tenn., where Mary Ann had been baptized.
“The lady who played the organ at our wedding was a member of that church when I was a baby,” Mary Ann said.
“They did tie in some of the Jewish” traditions in the ceremony, she said.
The couple honeymooned in Cape Town, South Africa.
African art is Josh’s minor concentration in his doctoral degree.
She loved seeing the animals.
“It’s not often you get to see an elephant walking down the road right next to your car,” she said.
“It was just unbelievable.”
Josh got a teaching job in Colorado and started at Arkansas Tech in 2011, where he is assistant professor of art.
“I am so proud of him,” Mary Ann said.
She said he’s romantic, taking her on surprise day trips.
“I thought I was romantic until I met her,” he said.
“It feels fresh; it always feels fresh.”
On Valentine’s Day, the couple will keep it simple, Josh said, and go out to dinner.
Even with the anecdotal stories and a reality-TV show about online-dating hoaxes, Mary Ann and Josh said they’re glad they took the chance.
“I would say, have the patience, and you will find them,” Mary Ann said.
“Personally, I never thought I was going to find anybody. I thought I was going to be single,” she said.
“Trust the Lord, and he will take you on the right path, and if it’s meant for you to find them, you’ll find them,” she said.
Senior writer Tammy Keith can be reached at (501) 327-0370 or firstname.lastname@example.org.