Only Along the Gulfshore

Getting Personal

They’re couples on the move, having impact in their various fields around Southwest Florida. Here, we peek into the private lives of four of our hottest duos to learn what brought them together and how they keep their relationships sizzling.

BY July 27, 2015

Chad & Lori Oliver

It sounds like the setup of some screwball romantic-comedy: A trusted newsman is challenged to step out from behind his desk and onto the dance floor, where he boogies his way to a trophy—and love. But that’s the story behind the courtship of NBC2 anchor Chad Oliver and his wife, Lori, the CEO and founder of the Naples Performing Arts Center, who met in 2011 when they were partnered for a dance-themed fundraiser.

On their legendary meet-cute

Lori: I had never felt more comfortable to be myself than when I was with him. He truly became my best friend. We danced to the song You’re the One That I Want and we tore it up. He was amazing. And we won!

Chad: Trust me, it was all Lori!  We look back at our dance on YouTube and laugh at my missteps. Little did we know, that was the beginning of a lifelong friendship and romance.    

It’s those little quirks, you know?

Lori: The one thing I absolutely love about Chad is that he married into a very musical family. And, well, he is maybe not as musical as he thinks he is. He is constantly singing and whistling. I love hearing him work around the house or yard, singing and whistling at the top of his lungs—even if it is off-key!

Chad: Lori gets so excited during our tennis rallies, especially when she comes to the net—she lets out a squeal and does a little dance after the point. It always makes me laugh!  

Happy, together

Lori: The thing I love most about our relationship is how much fun we have together. No matter what we are doing—playing tennis, watching TV, at a formal event—we love being together. There is no one I would rather spend time with. He makes me laugh. He hurts when I hurt. He rejoices when I rejoice. He is my biggest fan and I am his.

Chad: Time is the key for us. Neither of us likes to be apart from each other because we don’t want to live separate lives. If we’re not working, you’re probably going to see us together. We laugh at life. It’s a journey we’re on together.  


Eric & Melissa Eason

When Eric Eason snapped up a membership deal offered by eHarmony, he had no idea where it would lead. Five years after meeting his now-wife, Melissa, on the matchmaking website, he jokes that it was definitely money well-spent. The couple make their home in Fort Myers, where they have a young daughter and Eric is a pediatric cardiologist at the Golisano Children’s Hospital. Melissa is a wardrobe and prop stylist and the owner of Style Hunters.

Isn’t it romantic?

Eric: Melissa is good at knowing the small things that will make me feel loved. I recently was studying for my board exams and she hid little gifts, treats around the house to keep me motivated in my studying. These weren’t big gifts, but ones that showed she knows how to keep me motivated and make me feel loved during trying times.

Melissa: He has routinely surprised me with flowers, chocolates while away on business trips. When we were first dating, he found the studio in New York where I was working and sent a basket of chocolates and cookies to me and the entire crew as a way to say he missed me. These romantic gestures, small acts of kindness, made me realize what a great guy he is.

On keeping a loving balance

Eric: All of our lives get crazy at times. I recently heard a lecture by a senior pediatric cardiologist who described the work/home balance as more like a pendulum. Enjoying a bowl of ice cream with each other on the couch or the happy moments with our daughter helps to reconnect us throughout the week. Constantly reconnecting strengthens us for when the pendulum swings back the other way.

Melissa: We cook dinner for each other, plan date nights and enjoy the simple moments. I love that Eric is a genuine, sincere, romantic guy. We are passionate, dedicated people who challenge each other to be better in all aspects of our lives.


Byron & Erika Donalds

Byron Donalds admits it’s hard to ask out a cute, clever woman after she’s just been kind enough to give you a ride home from a college party. Fortunately, the Florida State University campus was not so large that their paths didn’t cross again soon. Fifteen years later, they are married with three children. In November, Erika was elected to the Collier County School Board, and in March, Byron announced his plans to run for Florida State House District 80 seat.

They’re playing our song

Erika: On our first Valentine’s Day after we were married, Byron bought me a big stuffed monkey with “LOVE” in lights across its chest that plays L-O-V-E by Nat King Cole. Over the years, every child has gone through an obsession with “the LOVE Monkey,” playing the song for us over and over. Every time it would play, we would sing it or kiss, or hug, or dance. It’s been a cute romantic tradition.

They take time to be silly

Byron: The times when I know something and Erika doesn’t, I love giving her a hard time. She is so cute when she wants to get information!

Erika: We razz each other all the time. We are both sarcastic and have a dry sense of humor. I can just think back on things he’s said to poke fun at me and it makes me laugh. We have a lot of inside jokes and like to quote our favorite comedies.

Love lasts, but it must be nurtured

Byron: Keep the same level of focus on your spouse as you did when you were first dating. We work hard to stay in the best physical shape we can, for each other and for our family long-term. I let her pick what she wants me to wear, and she always asks what I like for her to wear. We still work to impress one another. We go on dates at least once a month, which is really important when you are as busy as we are. 

Erika: Grow together. Learn together. We’ve read several books together on marriage and we do couples’ devotions. You cannot take your relationship for granted. It will never be so perfected that you no longer have to work at it. You must be deliberate about keeping things fresh and exciting and making sure your spouse is happy. Find out your spouse’s love language and keep their love tank full by doing the things that make them feel treasured.


Kimberly & John Pollock

Mutual friends tried to play matchmaker for John, Florida regional insurance president of BB&T—Oswald Trippe and Company, and Kim, owner and CEO at PRN Marketing and Development. But Kim resisted, thinking John wasn’t her type. Finally, she agreed to lunch, and she left with an entirely different impression: “I had a suspicion after that first date that he could be ‘the one,’” she recalls. The couple have been married for two years.

Their sweetest gestures …

John: We recently took a vacation to Hawaii, and a few days after we returned, I received a handwritten love letter from Kim that she had mailed while we were there.

Kim: The most loving gift John never gave me was one that touched my soul forever. On our honeymoon, John told me that he had found my beloved horse that I had to give up years ago during a very difficult time in my life. He had planned to give him to me as a wedding gift but discovered he had died a year prior. I was terribly sad, yet filled with tremendous love all at the same time. I still feel the same way when I think about it today.

On what they love about each other

Kim: John is a gentle giant. He has a heart so soft that we tease him with the nickname “Playdough.” In fact, he sleeps with a teddy bear, which I think is very sexy. I love how he gives so much of himself to our children unconditionally, a lot of times without the thanks and respect he deserves. He is my soul mate, my best friend and my hero.

John: The most beautiful and amazing thing about Kim is not what you see on the outside but it is what is on the inside. Her heart. The source of her strength is her faith, but her heart is her engine. And what an engine it is. How she lives her life has redefined, at the deepest levels, the meaning of the words “faith,” “compassion,” “love,” “honesty,” “consistency,” “commitment” and “determination” for me.



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