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University of Missouri

Love Comes Full Circle

MU alumni married in Speakers Circle return 15 years later.

It had been 15 years since Dana Huyler stood in the middle of Speakers Circle and bellowed out the words to a Dr. Seuss classic. But he’s still got it. On April 9, 2014, when he cracked open Green Eggs and Ham, before he even cleared his throat to begin, an MU student walked by and exclaimed, “That’s my favorite book!”

Dana Huyler

Dana Huyler, aka Seuss Man, read Dr. Seuss books in Speakers Circle every Friday around lunchtime from 1993 to 1999.

By the time the unnamed character decided that he does indeed like green eggs and ham, a crowd had formed around Huyler, some sitting, some standing, but all smiling.

It all started in 1993 when Huyler wanted to do something to balance the preachers who condemned sinning students as they walked through Speakers Circle between classes. He tried performing a few soliloquies from Shakespeare’s Hamlet, but alas, poor Yorick, they fell flat. When he switched to Dr. Seuss, people started listening.

MaryEllen Chilton and Dana Huyler met, got engaged and then married in Speakers Circle.

MaryEllen Chilton and Dana Huyler met, got engaged and then married in Speakers Circle.

It’s not that Huyler particularly likes green eggs and ham or that he looks especially suave in a red-and-white striped polyester and felt oversized hat, either. What he enjoyed most about it was that he would make people smile as they passed by. “Everyone has some sort of connection with Dr. Seuss,” says Huyler, BS CoE, BS EE ’96.

Including MaryEllen Chilton. Chilton is from St. James, Mo., a small town where conformity is expected and everyone plays by the rules. So she was surprised when, during her first week at MU, she saw Huyler belting out Green Eggs and Ham, under an umbrella in the pouring rain.

I thought that took a lot of guts,” recalls Chilton, BA ’97. “I liked that.”

About 50 people attended their April 9, 1999, wedding ceremony at Speakers Circle, including a several passerby.

About 50 people attended their April 9, 1999, wedding ceremony at Speakers Circle, including several passersby.

Introduced by mutual friends, Huyler and Chilton started dating. Huyler continued reading every week, usually on Fridays around lunchtime, earning the nickname the Seuss Man. He read The Lorax on Earth Day; Oh, the Places You’ll Go near graduation; and How the Grinch Stole Christmas around the holidays.

In 1997, Chilton even tried her hand at reading — but not a Dr. Seuss book. She read an original poem, written in Seussian rhyme, that ended with the line, “Hey Seuss Man, will you marry me?”

Huyler said yes. The couple’s journey came full circle April 9, 1999, when they tied the knot in Speakers Circle.

MaryEllen Chilton and Dana Huyler

MaryEllen Chilton and Dana Huyler returned to Speakers Circle April 9, 2014 to celebrate their 15th wedding anniversary. Photo by Rob Hill.

From 1993 to 1999, Huyler set up shop in Speakers Circle, reading every single one of Dr. Seuss’ books. In 1999, the couple moved to Austin, Texas, where Huyler is software architect for a security company, and Chilton works in sales for a background screening company. On April 9, 2014, they returned to Speakers Circle to celebrate their 15th wedding anniversary.

As Seuss Man read the last lines of Green Eggs and Ham, his booming voice heard as far away as the Brady Fountain, a student’s frown slowly morphed into a smile. “Who doesn’t like Green Eggs and Ham”? she said.