Photo: Margaret McKinney/Highlands University
Highlands alumni Richard and Pauline Rindone stand in the book stacks of Donnelly Library. The two studied and worked in the university’s old library during their student days. They have been married 51 years.
Las Vegas, N.M. – A young couple sits side by side studying quietly in the library at Highlands University in 1963, their love flourishing along with their academics. Fast forward 53 years to the same couple, Pauline and Richard Rindone, who say they met the love of their life at Highlands, and the university also prepared them to be lifelong learners.
“In 1962 when I was a sophomore, all the girls were talking about these three East Coast boys who had come to campus that fall,” Pauline said. “I decided I was going to meet Richard because he was the most handsome of the three.”
Pauline Romo’s chance came when they were both at a party at the historic Plaza Hotel, and she introduced herself. She remembers talking and dancing with the quiet, serious Richard.
“Highlands was a very small campus at the time, and Pauline had already caught my eye because she was such a pretty girl,” Richard said. “I started visiting Pauline where she worked at the university library on the second floor of Rodgers Hall. Donnelly Library wasn’t built yet.”
In 1963, Richard joined Pauline in working at the library.
The 78-year-old Richard is a native of Athol, Massachusetts. At 17 he joined the U.S. Navy Reserves and served two years of active duty on an aircraft carrier flight deck. After an honorable discharge he attended junior college in Massachusetts.
“I was looking for an affordable school I could transfer to that was in the Rocky Mountains so I could ski. Highlands fit the bill with the $70 tuition per quarter and its proximity to the slopes,” Richard said.
He headed west with two friends from junior college, saying he hit the books hard because he was the first in his family to go to college and wanted to succeed. Richard’s double major was history and political science.
Pauline, 74, grew up in Mora, New Mexico, and was also the first in her family to go to college. With her love of the Spanish language she grew up with, she chose Spanish and business as her double major.
This 1963 photo of Highlands alumni Pauline and Richard Rindone was taken at a student party in the historic Veeder building on the Las Vegas Plaza. They call it their courting photo.
“The only way I could see Richard was to study with him. My grades improved exponentially when we started dating,” Pauline said with a smile.
Both earned dean’s list honors at Highlands.
Pauline said one of her favorite memories from their student days was sitting under a big elm tree on campus while Richard helped her with her French pronunciation, which was harder than Spanish.
“Oui! I’d taken French at junior college, but mostly I just wanted to kiss Pauline,” Richard quipped.
He said he always looked forward to holding Pauline’s hand and walking her home to her sister Cleo’s house four blocks from campus.
Richard graduated from Highlands June 5, 1964, and they married the next day at the old Newman Center on campus. Pauline graduated in August the same year.
“The strong academic grounding that we got at Highlands gave us the confidence to become productive lifelong learners,” Pauline said.
After graduating the couple worked in Las Vegas for two years, with Pauline teaching at the old Castle Junior High and Richard working as a caseworker for the state Department of Public Welfare.
Then they moved to Albuquerque where they started graduate school at the University of New Mexico and their family.
Both earned their master’s degrees in education at UNM, continuing their education studies at the doctoral level. Pauline earned her Ph.D. in 1982 and Richard completed his Ph.D. coursework. Both taught at UNM as well as Eastern New Mexico University.
Pauline’s career path also included positions such as education coordinator for the Albuquerque Job Corps Center and assistant principal at the Alamo Navajo School in Alamo, New Mexico. Her education policy expertise led to various positions of increasing responsibility at the State of New Mexico Legislative Education Study Committee, where she worked for more than 20 years before retiring as director in 2008.
“My passion is to see young people get educated and have more opportunities,” Pauline said. “It’s one of the reasons I’ve served on the Highlands Foundation Board since 2009.”
Richard’s career also included teaching in the Highlands School of Education and serving as interim dean of students. He also coordinated the Title III program at Highlands and directed the Title V program at Santa Fe Community College. Both federal programs are aimed at providing more higher education opportunities for low-income students.
Richard continues to teach at Highlands. This spring semester he teaches statistics for educators, a graduate course offered at the university’s Santa Fe Center.
“I’m a little old fashioned and the kind of guy who has chalk on his sleeves from teaching,” Richard said. “My major focus was always to be an educator, and I stuck with that.”
The Rindones raised three children.
“We have three beautiful daughters – Renee, Pier and Alexis – and three grandchildren. We’re very proud of how our daughters each went a different route and are successful at what they do,” Pauline said.
The Rindones’ hobbies keep them physically fit. Richard is an avid road and mountain cyclist, pedaling the annual 100-mile Santa Fe Century road ride with his grandson and doing mountain trail rides at locations like the Valles Calderas Wilderness. Pauline is a hiking and walking enthusiast, tackling trails like Aspen Vista in the foothills of Santa Fe and trekking the final 150-mile section of the historic Camino de Santiago that begins in the Pyrenees of France and ends in Santiago, Spain.
Travel is a shared interest, with the couple’s adventures ranging from Spain and Italy to Alaska and Hawaii. Wherever they wander, they search out bookstores and coffee shops where they can linger and read together.
The Santa Fe couple also travels with their grandchildren, taking them to places like Washington, D.C. and Boston to learn more about U.S. history.
Reflecting on their 51-year marriage, the Rindone’s said the glue that held them together was deep respect for one another, supporting each other’s endeavors, being independent and having their own interests, teamwork, and a big dose of love.