Destined to Be Together

Published on 12 February 2019

“Excuse me, can you take a look at this? It looks bad, what medicine should I put on it?”

Hearing these types of questions is common for Starlin Haydon-Greatting, B.S. ’81, M.S., and Mark Greatting, B.S. ’81, M.D. Not a day goes by without the happily married couple running into patients at the state fair, their favorite restaurant or even the supermarket.

The couple has served the community of Springfield, Illinois, for the past 37 years, earning a reputation around town as the go-to health care professionals. Currently, Haydon-Greatting serves as the Illinois Pharmacists Association director of clinical programs and population health and Greatting is an orthopedic surgeon specializing in upper extremities at the Springfield Clinic Orthopedic Group.

When Haydon-Greatting and Greatting were students at St. Louis College of Pharmacy, the couple had another reputation as two best friends who should get together. However, the two didn’t start out as friends.

“My friend Nancy Harres introduced me to Mark while I was working in the dean’s office on Move-In Day,” Haydon-Greatting said. “I was so busy that it was a quick introduction, but I think since he was a tall man and I was a tall woman, Nancy thought we should meet.”

It wasn’t until a bus ride headed to freshman orientation that Haydon-Greatting noticed Greatting again. Greatting had made a snide comment about her under his breath as Haydon-Greatting and Harres passed by him on their way to the back of the bus.

“I remember thinking that Mark had this too cool for school attitude,” she added. “Little did I know that with my last name being Haydon and his Greatting, we were destined to sit near each other and be assigned to almost every group together throughout our time at the College.”

During the 1970s and 1980s, students were assigned seats in every class and event based on alphabetical order. Haydon-Greatting was seated next to Greatting and noticed he was receiving top marks on all of their tests, so she started encouraging him to apply for scholarships. In return, he helped her set up tables for events and on-campus meetings.

Both became involved in student organizations and Haydon-Greatting went on to represent the College at the national level through the American Pharmacists Association – Academy of Student Pharmacists. As she worked to move initiatives forward, she sought out Greatting’s advice on different matters.

“We were study buddies and friends that ended up secretly dating,” Haydon-Greatting said. “Since we were dating casually, and it was a small school we didn’t want to get labeled.”

Even though word was not out about their relationship, everyone including faculty members had Haydon-Greatting and Greatting pegged as a couple that was meant to be. Haydon-Greatting’s ability to get involved and push Greatting to new heights paired well with Greatting’s analytical thinking. Their individual strengths balanced one another.

“Since we both worked at the College and our birthdays were only six hours a part, Dr. Naeger and Dr. and Mrs. Haberle threw us a joint 21st birthday party at Tom’s Bar,” she said. “People were always encouraging Mark to share his romantic feelings for me, and it seemed we were always pushed together.”

During her fourth-year, Haydon-Greatting’s father passed and Greatting encouraged faculty members and students to attend the funeral to show their support for the Haydon family. As a mechanic, Haydon-Greatting’s father had a reputation for being the “car doctor,” having worked on many of the faculty members’ cars.

“I had no idea that Mark had encouraged most of the College community to attend the funeral,” she said. “The outpouring of support was amazing. He even spoke with faculty members about helping me pay for school since all of my accounts were locked after my father had passed.”

The following year, Greatting scheduled a meeting with Haydon-Greatting’s four brothers to ask for her hand in marriage.

“The proposal was a complete surprise,” she said. “I did not know how strong his feelings were for me. Now I know he wanted to have a ring on my finger before I traveled to Alaska for my pharmacy residency program.”

Fast forward 37 years later, the couple continues to support one another just like they did as students.

“When we have deadlines, we sit in the living room like we did in the College’s library and silently support one another,” she said. “If one of us has a question, we bounce it off each other, and we’re always collaborating on different health care issues.”

Did you meet your significant other at STLCOP? If so, sign up for the Alumni Association's Love in the Lab Couples Club at


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