After 20 years together, enjoying the ‘good stuff’

Donna & Nick Romero

Jesuit Volunteer Corps trainees had just filled the retreat center on their first day of orientation, but Donna Kelly’s eyes kept finding the same tall, dark, handsome man across the room.

“Who’s that?” University of St. Joseph recently from Lansdowne wondered to himself. To Donna’s delight, she soon meets Nick Romero, a California resident and recent graduate of Santa Clara University. When he wasn’t teaching high school English and he wasn’t teaching students to do their GEDs, they and other Jesuit Corps volunteers working in New York would meet in Times Square and explore.

The more she got to know Nick, the more Donna liked him. Reconnaissance is in order. “I asked her housemate Karen how she was doing,” she recalls. Karen Report: He’s an amazing guy who just broke up with his college girlfriend.

Karen then asked Nick what he thought of Donna. “I said that Donna was cute, and she was friendly and welcoming,” he recalls.

Karen’s question plants a seed, but it takes a while for it to sprout.

Near the end of their one year commitment, both Donna and Nick decided to extend their services. He remained with JVC and he found his own show, but they both ended up at the Nativity Mission Center, a Jesuit high school for boys, where he taught math and science and she taught language arts and drama.

Donna loved working with her friend and was somewhat resigned to the fact that Nick wasn’t interested in anything else. But after a few weeks teaching at the same faculty, Nick finds himself attracted to Donna. He tried to be patient: “I think since we’re working together, we probably shouldn’t date, and I’ll hold off on asking her out until the end of the school year.”

Root for Ms. Kelly and Mr. Romero

Donna doesn’t have a classroom, giving her a compelling reason to stash her things in Nick’s room, then pops in to get them. During recess, he grades papers on the basketball court. After shooting circles with the boy, Nick will talk to him. The 1999-2000 school year had just begun, and everyone in the Nativity Mission – teachers, principals, and students – could clearly see something was between Ms. Kelly and Mr. Romero.

Nick and Donna’s first portrait as a legal couple, in New York City in 1999..Read moreCourtesy of spouses

“Oh Mister Romero-oo, what do you think of Mrs Kelly?” the students would ask him. They were friends, he said. That is also always the answer to such questions.

That October, Donna, Nick and their friends were at a dive bar when a man tried to chat up Donna, noticed her height and called her an Amazon. Nick saw she was uncomfortable and hugged her. “This is my boyfriend,” she said to the man. “That’s the daughter you have there – treat her like one,” said the man.

Their first kiss happened that night. Since then, Nick has delivered all the cards and love letters to “Princess”.

The following school year, Donna worked at Loyola School. Nick remained at the Nativity Mission and later became headmaster.


Nick keeps trying to plan something special for October 2001, but Donna’s schedule keeps getting in the way. Interview at NYU, where he earned a bachelor’s degree in educational theater. Her roles in mediocre independent films and shifting schedules when she should have said her two lines. Finally, he took her out of town to Bear Mountain State Park.

“Let’s go for a walk,” he suggested, making Donna suspicious. They climbed to the lookout.

“What do you think is the biggest surprise of the past two years?” he asked her.

“It’s surprising that we are together, coming from completely opposite coasts,” he said. “But we were raised the same way, with the same morals and values,” he added.

Nick agrees. “I’ve always had this vision at the head of my house with kids and dogs in the front yard,” he says. “When we date, that vision becomes clearer and clearer — and the most obvious part of that is you.” He knelt down. “MS. Donna Kelly, will you marry me?”

He would.

Towards Pa.

On October 5, 2002, the couple, who are now 46 years old, were married in a traditional Catholic service at Donna’s family church: St. Philomena in Lansdowne. “We both taught at a Jesuit school at the time, and the president of the school, who is also a former JVC volunteer, and the founder of my school co-directed,” says Nick. “Another friend who is a Jesuit brother sings.”

Nick and Donna on their wedding day, October 5, 2002..Read moreCourtesy of spouses

A reception for 150 followed at the Twentieth Century Club. Donna and Nick sat at the front of the room at the lovers table. “Sitting together and seeing everyone from all over this country – our college friends, our families, our JVC roommates – all there for us, it was a special moment to be had,” said Donna.

The couple have two children: TJ, 15, and Kelly, 12. Donna was pregnant with TJ when, on a visit to his parents’ home in Springfield, Delaware County, Nick had an epiphany: They could have an easier time buying a house and childcare in the Philadelphia burbs than in Jersey City.

In 2007, Nick was hired at Haverford School, where he taught seventh grade math and coached high school basketball and intramural volleyball. Donna worked at Villa Maria Academy for five years and has spent the last 11 years at Friends Select School, where she chaired the drama department and teaches drama and public speaking to middle and high school students. They and their children live on Drexel Hill with their two dogs, Calvin and Hobbes.

family life

When Nick’s parents, Bob and Celia, retired, they moved from California to be near Nick, Donna, TJ, and Kelly. “Having both sets of grandparents nearby is a gift for kids,” says Nick. Her parents were also good friends with Donna’s parents Dave and Terrie. Celia died in 2020. While she was sick, Terrie, a retired school nurse, took care of her.

Family portrait from Christmas 2015. Top row, from left: Donna’s father, Dave Kelly; Nick’s father, Bob Romero; Nick. Center row: Donna’s mother, Terrie Kelly; Nick’s mother, Celia Romero, who died in 2020; Donna. Front row: TJ and Kelly..Read moreCourtesy of spouses

Donna and Nick have always loved the outdoors. For the past five summers, they and their kids have gone to Family Camp in Vermont, where there’s no WiFi, but there’s plenty of time for campers of all ages to kayak, hike, and do archery, yoga, and arts and crafts. .

Nick plays volleyball in the league. Donna is acting in local community theater productions and will play Margaret in a production of Players Club of Swarthmore Lots of Ado About Nothing, which opened in March. They also spend a lot of time on their kids’ shows: Kelly plays lacrosse and TJ’s field and row hockey.

Four months after their 20th wedding anniversary, they are still enjoying each other immensely. “We do like to be at home on the couch sometimes with a nice snack,” says Donna. Favorite snack: Kelly’s chocolate chip cookies.

“It’s not an understatement to say he’s the nicest person I know,” Donna said of Nick. “He was very kind and patient – ​​what a father. He listens to me. I love beating myself up, but he’s building me back up. In Jesuit education, we talk about being a person to others. He really is a man for others.

Donna and Nick Romero on a 20th anniversary trip to New Hope..Read moreCourtesy of spouses

Nick says Donna is his perfect partner. “If there’s anything I need I can ask for it, whether it’s advice on something or help,” he said. “He has the ability to help me decompress a bit but also, in a great way, he will push me to help me see things in a different perspective. And she is a great mom to our kids, just like I knew she would be. How well he listened to them and, through what he said and did, they knew they were deeply loved and supported.

What’s next

Donna and Nick with their children, Kelly and TJ, in the Poconos..Read moreCourtesy of spouses

All Donna and Nick wanted to do was enjoy their last two years as a family living under the same roof before TJ went off to college. Nick predicts it will run as fast as the early childhood years. Donna agreed. “Our children are healthy and thriving. Our marriage is healthy and thriving. We don’t want to look ahead because this is a good thing.”

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