"Want a Hand?"

Cyclones Everywhere: Cyclone Sweethearts

Photo by Matt Van Winkle

Bob McCarthy and Cheryl Stritzel McCarthy, 2022 Homecoming Cyclone Sweethearts
Bob McCarthy and Cheryl Stritzel McCarthy, 2022 Homecoming Cyclone Sweethearts Throwback

It was like a scene from a rom-com.

“I was knee-deep in garbage. It was 6 a.m. on a Sunday, and I was dragging loaded plastic bags of garbage out of my dorm, Linden Hall, toward the dumpster when he showed up,” says Cheryl Stritzel McCarthy.

Cheryl had landed this part-time, week­end custodian job a few months earlier and had been delighted by the extra cash. But now it was early winter 1979, cold and blustery.

“I heard Bob say, ‘Want a hand with those?’ as he grabbed a bag from the doz­ens piled around me. He helped me toss every last one over the rim, smiling a smile that could melt the ice under our feet. Then he held out his hand and asked me to breakfast. I said yes, and tucked my hand into his,” she says.

The two had gone on a date the week prior, but it was the impromptu garbage toss that Cheryl remembers as the moment Bob won her heart. They’ve been holding hands ever since.

Cheryl (’81 journalism and mass communications) and Bob (’81 electrical engineering) returned to Ames to marry at St. Thomas Aquinas Catholic Church in 1983 and held their reception in the Great Hall of the Memorial Union.

Since then, they’ve shared 39 years of marriage, a dozen job-related moves (some international), three daughters, three sons-in-law, three grandchildren (and counting), and “many, many episodes of taking out the garbage together.”

The McCarthys were named 2022 Homecoming Cyclone Sweethearts and honored at the Homecoming Pep Rally on Nov. 4.