They’ll Always Have Venice (and Each Other)

Dr. Neal Frederic Kassell and Meredith Jung-En Woo, better of pals for years, have been ambivalent about marriage as not too long ago as three months in the past. But on Sept. 9, whereas sitting subsequent to one another on an airplane in relative silence, Dr. Kassell leaned over to say one thing to Ms. Woo, who was studying a ebook.

“Hey, should we get married,” he requested her someplace over the Atlantic throughout a flight to Italy.

Ms. Woo appeared up from her ebook and softly mentioned, “Oh yeah, sure,” earlier than persevering with to learn.

And identical to that, they have been engaged.

“First you laugh about the idea of getting married, then you get a little more serious about it and you talk about it some more,” mentioned Dr. Kassell, 75, the founder and chairman of the Focused Ultrasound Foundation, primarily based in Charlottesville, Va.

Dr. Kassell, who beforehand served as a co-chair of neurosurgery on the University of Virginia, met Ms. Woo, 63, after she was employed as dean of the college’s College and Graduate School of Arts and Sciences in May 2008.

“I first met Meredith when she arrived at my house with a friend one day for dinner,” he mentioned.

“I was struck by how beautiful she was,” added Dr. Kassell, who graduated from the University of Pennsylvania, from which he additionally acquired a medical diploma.

“When Meredith opened her mouth, I understood she was not just another pretty face,” he mentioned. “She was arguably the smartest and best-informed person I had ever met, and she had a great sense of humor and an enormous appreciation for all the fine things in life, particularly food and wine.”

[Click here to binge read this week’s featured couples.]

They had many issues in widespread, together with the truth that they have been each married to different folks on the time.

“We became really good friends, and it remained that way for 10 years,” mentioned Ms. Woo, now the president of Sweet Briar College in Virginia.

By November 2018, each Ms. Woo, the mom of a teenage boy, and Dr. Kassell, the daddy of three younger women, have been divorced. Later that year, she accepted an invite to Dr. Kassell’s annual New Year’s Eve celebration.

“We waited 10 years,” Dr. Kassell mentioned. “But I was ready to go out with Meredith from the minute I met her.”

Asked if she felt the identical, Ms. Woo mentioned “no comment,” earlier than including, “I think that when you marry your best friend, it’s the best way to get married.”

The creator and editor of seven books, together with “Race to the Swift: State and Finance in Korean Industrialization” and “The Developmental State,” Ms. Woo mentioned, “I felt comfortable around him despite all of his eccentricities,” which embrace Dr. Kassell’s twice yearly journeys to Venice, the place he has been greater than 50 occasions. (Ms. Woo has accompanied him on a number of visits, together with the journey in September after they turned engaged on the flight whereas en route.)

They have been married Nov. 4 at Dr. Kassell’s home in Charlottesville, the place the couple lives. Mark Warner, a U.S. Senator from the Commonwealth of Virginia and a buddy of the couple who has recognized the groom for greater than 25 years, officiated.

There have been no friends.

“Hopefully, along the way, I helped him become a better, kinder and more gentle person,” the bride mentioned of the groom, “and hopefully he has done the same for me.”gbbbbbbbbbbbk

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