Loes and Carel have been together for more than 50 years
Many loves have their origins on campus, though not all of them last. Some campus couples are still together to this day. Towards the university's 100th anniversary, we collect their love stories. Carel Janssen (85) and Loes van Eck (80) both studied at the Tilburg Catholic Academy, as Tilburg University was called in 1964. They knew each other by sight and were both members of the mensa committee. Romance blossomed during one particularly enjoyable Boxing Day party. Now, 58 years on, they tell about their college days and what followed.
After two years of military service and a year abroad, Carel started his Economics studies in 1961. One year later, Loes started her Sociology program. “The university had considerably fewer students than it does now. So you practically knew all students in your own year, but also those of other cohorts,” says Loes. “Near the old mensa, there was a small square (Bosscheweg-corner of Sint Josephstraat) where Carel used to park his motor scooter. He stood out, first of all because not many people owned scooters at the time. He had this Michelin coat, which I really liked. These coats are making a comeback now. And he was tall, also a big plus. So you could say I had already noticed Carel.”
Joint members of the mensa committee
In 1963, the mensa moved to a new building at Professor Cobbenhagenlaan and was run entirely by students at the time. Carel was active in the mensa committee and was involved in the day-to-day management of operations and the coaching of professional staff. “The students created the menus and served the food. As board members, we got free meals in the mensa,” he says. “The times were completely different. There were no bank cards. The money for the meals was paid in cash. I put the day’s earnings in my pocket and took the money over to the bank at Heuvel.”
In 1964, Carel left the mensa committee. “I had so many other things going on beside the committee. I was a board member of the Student Housing Foundation and I was on various building committees. It all became too much. But I really couldn’t let go of the mensa committee and regularly visited the board room,” he says with a grin.
Hard to focus on what I was reading
Loes van Eck
On Boxing Day 1964, there was an engagement party in Venlo hosted by one of the other mensa committee members. “It was a very good party. I was so drunk that I fell in love with you there and then,” Loes jokes. “After the party, Carel walked me to the station. I took the train to my parents in Eindhoven, Carel to his parents in Arnhem. He held on to my hand very tightly; I thought that was so sweet. I remember that I had a book with me to read on the train, but I found it very hard to focus on what I was reading.”
On January 4, Loes took the train back to Tilburg. “I had about enough of home,” she says. “Carel was waiting for me at the station. Well, I’m glad you’re here, he said. The confidence of his approach overwhelmed me. We spent the whole day together. From that day on, we were an item and we saw each other almost every day.”
Resident manager of student flats
Bright college days unfolded. In gratitude of Carel’s efforts for the building committee, the couple were given the opportunity to act as resident managers of the student flats on Verbernelaan, which included a flat of their own. Loes: “It was great to live there. We paid next to no rent; electricity and the phone were free of charge. And we had lots more space on the first floor of these “star” flats. As a result, students tended to drop in on us after lectures. At five o’clock we had a full house with students drinking beer and sherry.”
Beer, sherry and condoms
Occupation of the university
The occupation of “Karl Marx University Tilburg” in 1969 also passes in review. Students at the time demanded the right to participate in the decision-making on how the university was run. And that more attention be paid to current social issues in education and research. “I was at home with two small children at the time, but I was extremely interested in the developments. Some good things did come out of it,” Loes thinks. “The instructors used to have a lot of power. As a student, you didn’t have the heart to go against them. That is completely different now: there is more of a balance.”
When he graduated, Carel was presented with a gold watch by the grateful Executive Board. And then I was off to do some real work,” Carel smiled. He became a director of a housing association in Tilburg. Nineteen years later, he became the director of Groothandelsgebouwen NV in Rotterdam. After that, he was elected as a member of the executive board of Dongestroom water board.
Loes began her career at a regional social charity organization (Provinciaal Sociaal Charitatief Centrum) and subsequently worked almost 25 years at Katholieke Leergangen in Tilburg (now Fontys University of Applied Sciences) and then volunteered at the Council for Refugees in Gilze-Rijen, providing legal/social counseling to newly arrived asylum seekers. Because of her eye condition (macular degeneration), she had to give up this work. She continues to volunteer for the Dutch Macular Society.
The place that brings back so many memories
Loes van Eck
Two children, four grandchildren, and numerous wonderful trips around the world later, the couple look back on the past years with satisfaction. “We have always traveled a lot. Egypt, Indonesia, Nepal, China, India, Borneo, Iran, Ghana, Iceland, New Zealand, Australia, Mexico, the United States, Canada. Even now, we regularly travel to America, because our son lives there,” Carel says. They have also remained in contact with other alumni, for instance, some of Carel’s best friends of fraternity ADAT. And every five years, during Tilburg University’s five-year anniversaries, Carel and Loes meet up with a group of former study mates. Loes: “That is quite special. We are all getting on in years, but we continue to see each other. That is such fun and so enjoyable. And it is always a good thing to be back on campus, the place that brings back so many memories.”
Date of publication: 16 January 2023