Valentine’s card leads to love, marriage

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by Dennis Dalman

In kindergarten in Albany, way back in 1986, a little girl named Stefanie Krebs received a whole bunch of cards on Valentine’s day from class chums, but she later threw them all away – all but one.

The card showed cartoon character Garfield the cat next to a Teddy bear. On the back it was signed, “Love, Jacob.”

Eighteen years later Stefanie married the boy who’d sent that cute card – Jacob Rothstein. They now live happily in St. Stephen and have two children – Caden, 12; and Evie, 9.

“We were best buds in kindergarten,” Stefanie recalled. “But I lived in Albany and he lived in St. Martin and so out of school we never saw each other.”

And then distance divided the two “buds.” After kindergarten when he moved to Farming. Seven years later, he was again in school at Albany, in seventh grade.

“But in high school we didn’t really know each other anymore,” she said. As a result, they both developed kind of cold-shoulder attitudes to each other. That icy reserve broke quickly in ninth grade when Stefanie learned Jacob was dating her best friend. She was not happy, not at all. In fact, she was more than a little jealous; she was mighty mad. She and Jacob got into a verbal fight. Shortly after, he broke up with that girlfriend. And then he asked Stefanie to go to a movie. That was in 1996. The dating continued and one day eight years later Jacob asked Stefanie to marry him. They married in the Seven Dolors Church in Albany, took a 10-day Princess cruise to the Caribbean and then moved to St. Stephen. Just recently, they returned from a trip to Hawaii to celebrate their 15th wedding anniversary.

They often recall that kindergarten Garfield Valentine’s card, and Jacob himself is “quite a card,” according to Stefanie.

“To me, being with Jake every day is Valentine’s Day,” Stefanie said. “He has a child-like humor. Sometimes I think he hasn’t yet passed out of middle school because when they’re together, our son Caden, who is in Sartell Middle School, and Jacob act just like they’re both in middle school. I often say I have three children – Caden, Evie and Jacob. But I love it.”

Jacob is an electrician for Stearns County. Stefanie is a founder and co-owner of Hike Hoppers, a hiking/exploring group of women.

“Jacob,” she said, “has an amazing ability to create – drawing, woodworking. He even carved a bunch of candles for me years ago. And he is so funny, always keeping me and the kids laughing doing whimsical things.”

Stefanie recalled the time they were dating, early on, when Jacob picked her up at home and drove her around one winter day after blindfolding her for a surprise. In his yard, he took the blindfold off and she instantly beheld a huge Valentine heart he’d “drawn” on the snow with colored water.

Her heart, of course, melted.

In many ways, Stefanie’s personality is so different from Jacob’s.

“I was always so, so serious, working two jobs, always looking for a sense of direction and accomplishment,” she said. “I was a bit rigid and very organized. He was always filled with humor and that whimsical creativity. But that is good because we balance each other nicely.”

The Rothstein family loves to travel and take hiking trips.

In Hawaii in late January, the couple enjoyed sunrise hikes along steep volcanic forests and soaked up nature’s beauty at every step.

“Life can be all about simplicity,” Stefanie said. “About being in the moment, opening up to what’s around you.”

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Jacob and Stefanie Rothstein recently returned from a 15th anniversary vacation in Hawaii where they enjoyed quiet times together hiking in the lush steep forests.

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This is a copy of the Valentine card, 1986, that Jacob Rothstein signed “Love, Jacob” and gave to his sweetheart, Stefanie Krebs, in a kindergarten class in Albany.

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Stefanie Krebs and Jacob Rothstein perform a skit in their 1986 kindergarten class. After kindergarten they were separated for years but met again I high school, began dating and married 18 years after Jacob gave Stefanie a Valentine’s Day card.

Author: Dennis Dalman

Dalman was born and raised in South St. Cloud, graduated from St. Cloud Tech High School, then graduated from St. Cloud State University with a degree in English (emphasis on American and British literature) and mass communications (emphasis on print journalism). He studied in London, England for a year (1980-81) where he concentrated on British literature, political science, the history of Great Britain and wrote a book-length study of the British writer V.S. Naipaul. Dalman has been a reporter and weekly columnist for more than 30 years and worked for 16 of those years for the Alexandria Echo Press.

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