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University of Missouri

More Than Friends

The Paytons celebrated their second anniversary Nov. 12, 2013.

Richard and Christa Payton

Richard Payton and Christa Koskosky Payton celebrated their second anniversary Nov. 12, 2013. Photo courtesy of the Paytons.

Christa Koskosky Payton had heard all about Richard Payton before she met him. But when they were finally introduced at a Residential Life training session — she was a peer adviser in Defoe, he in Excellence — Richard was in a sour mood.

“I didn’t do myself any favors that day,” admits Richard, BA ’06, attributing his attitude to a demanding internship.

Friends, fellow peer advisers and future husband and wife Alex Anderson, BA ’08, M Ed ’10, and Stephanie Heffernan Anderson, BS BA ’08, MBA ’10, persisted in encouraging the couple.

The four started hanging out during Survivor watch parties, where Richard would coyly make eyes at Christa from across the room.

“That was his version of flirting,” recalls Christa, BJ ’07.

When Richard finally asked her to the movies, it was she who botched things.

“I suggested we go see the movie Just Friends,” she sighs. “Unfortunately, he took it as a hint.”

Rides on the Katy Trail, scoops from Sparky’s Homemade Ice Cream and late nights at IHOP led to the spark of a connection. They started dating in winter 2005 when Richard came over to Christa’s dorm and declared that he wanted to be with her.

Five years later when he proposed, he again said he wanted to be with her — for the rest of his life. The couple married Nov. 12, 2011, in Chicago. The Andersons, their matchmakers, were in attendance and led the cheer for old Mizzou when the DJ played the fight song.

Now living in Oak Park, Ill., Christa studies speech and language pathology at Elmhurst College, and Richard directs a statewide program that helps low-income, first-generation students and their families prepare for college.

“We’ll never forget what it was like to fall in love at Mizzou,” Richard says.