In 1949, Doris Stanfill Pulley unwittingly caught the attention of her future husband. She was studying in Miami University’s library when sophomore Robert ‘Bob’ Pulley noticed her but was too shy to approach. Pulley observed the Delta Delta Delta sorority pin she wore and used his sleuthing skills to look her up in the sorority directory.
At the time, Doris was preparing for an upcoming dance she was attending with Pulley’s roommate. But 62 years later, however, it was Pulley who remained by her side.
In September 2010, Miami announced Miami Mergers, Bob and Doris’ plan to donate a $1 million gift toward the Armstrong Student Center (ASC). The gift was given because of their love for the university.
“We’ve been very fortunate,” Doris said. “Bob had been very successful. The time had come to decide what to do. We have two children who don’t need that kind of money.”
Doris and Pulley dated throughout their time at Miami, following in the lead of Pulley’s parents Verlin ’25 (whom Pulley Tower is named after) and Corola Pulley ’25. It was two and a half years after the library encounter when Pulley made Doris his bride.
“I was at the dorm [Bishop Hall],” Doris said. “Thursday became Shampoo Day for girls. In those days, you shampooed once a week. I was sitting with my hair wet in curlers and I had a call to come downstairs.”
Pulley popped the question that night in the lobby of Bishop Hall. Even though it was not the most romantic setting, Doris said she was “quite surprised.” The wedding was planned for a month after graduation in 1952. When the Korean War broke out, every man was either drafted or enlisted, Doris said.
Pulley joined the U.S. Navy and became a fighter pilot. But due to the swift war, the U.S. Navy decided to push Pulley’s 1952 class departure three months early. Doris recalled the frenzy of the sudden change that made the couple get married three days after graduation on June 12, 1952.
“We quickly moved the wedding up,” Doris said. “We graduated on Monday, got married on Thursday and left for the Navy. My mother’s only comment was, ‘Please don’t get pregnant right away, nobody will ever believe me.'”
Following graduation, the couple travelled across the country to naval bases. Doris graduated Miami with a degree in elementary education and sought teaching jobs while Pulley mastered aviation. After the war, the Pulleys returned to the Cincinnati area to join the family dry cleaning business, Capitol Cleaners.
Then in 1962, Pulley spontaneously uprooted his young family to Honolulu. There he helped develop luxury condominiums, residential property and Burger King franchises across the islands.
Doris says she is thankful to Miami for her memories with her late husband. Pulley died April 2, missing their 62-year wedding anniversary by two months.
Doris speaks in a crisp voice that shifts in and out of infectious laughter as she remembers her “Bob.” He was the man who serenaded her with his fraternity, Phi Delta Theta, during a pinning ritual back in 1951. But as she remembers his death, she chokes up and her voice turns hoarse. For a moment, her cheerfulness fades but then she laughs breaking the bittersweet moment with a Miami memory of her “Bob.”
“It was a good marriage,” Doris said. “We dated two and a half years and we knew each other well. Then out of the next four years he was gone two years in the Navy. You learn to live together and separately … The key is you both don’t get upset at the same time.”
Susie Sadler, senior director of development for the ASC said the Pulleys’ gift was given through the center’s naming opportunity. According to Sadler, there are four different naming opportunities for interested donors. But the Pulleys partook in an inclusive naming opportunity for a “Signature Space.”
“When they were shown the plans for the center and realized we were going to have this diner in there, it just got them really excited,” Sadler said. “They thought it was just a really meaningful area for them to name. “
The 24/7 dining venue will resemble a Johnny Rockets, with a retro Happy Days ambiance, according to Sadler. It will be a sit-down restaurant serving breakfast, lunch, dinner and a meal in between.
“We polled the student body, over 3,000 students and this is one of the top things that they wanted,” Sadler said. “They wanted a place that they could go on campus 24/7 for food. This is going to be one of those really comfortable, great hang outs where you can go 24/7.”
Bob and Doris Pulley’s great grandniece, Kara-Leigh Pulley, attends Miami as a junior studying psychology. She is a Pulley legacy following behind more than 20 influential relatives.
Kara-Leigh says her family’s contribution to the ASC makes her proud that for generations Pulleys’ continually give back to Miami.
“I think it’s pretty cool. It’s sad that I wont be able to be around when the new center is around,” Kara-Leigh said. “But I think it’s pretty cool especially because they are Miami Mergers.”