Skip to main content

2016 PPP Tokarski CoupleAlumni Spotlight

John Tokarski
Degree Earned: B.A. in Journalism and Mass Communication
Graduation Year: 1979
Current Occupation: Outreach and Education Administrator
Employer: City of Pittsburgh Department of Public Safety
Current Hometown: Pittsburgh, Pa.

Lizann Tokarski
Degree Earned: B.A. in Dance
Graduation Year: 1980
Current Occupation: Safety Aide
Employer: Pittsburgh Public Schools, School Safety Division
Current Hometown: Pittsburgh, Pa.

A Valentine's Day to Remember

John Tokarski, '79, recalled the first time he saw his future wife. "On a cold day in February 1977, I asked a friend of mine, Grace Trenk, about a girl who was in her dance class - she was absolutely breathtaking! As Grace and this young lady exited the dance studio, I said 'hi' to Grace and I introduced myself to this young lady and she said her name was Lizann." After the introduction, John asked Grace if Lizann was seeing anyone.

John continued, "A couple days later Grace caught me and said that Lizann wasn't with anyone. Two days before Valentine's Day, I smelled an opportunity to make a more formal introduction and impression. I ran down to the Candy-Rama store on Fifth Avenue and bought her a heart of chocolates with a little stuffed teddy bear. Being the brave, confident young man I was not, I chickened and asked Grace to give the gift to Lizann on my behalf. She did me the favor and no sooner was she handing it to her, I was coincidentally running out the door to catch my bus home!"

When Lizann saw John a day later, she thanked him for the gift but wondered why he had not given the gift himself and ran away. John told her "I had to catch the bus home!" He asked her to lunch that day and the rest is history.

Happily Ever After

John and Lizann dated through the rest of their college years. Two years after Lizann graduated, the couple got married on May 8, 1982. "We have been at each other's side non-stop for 39 years and married for 33 years of them. We've had our ups and downs as all married couples have, but I wouldn't give her up for anything in the world. To date, she has been the best thing that Point Park has given me."

After graduation, John and Lizann made their home in Pittsburgh, and their family maintained ties with Point Park. Two children, Alexa, '10 & '13, and Leeza Marie, '16 followed their parents' footsteps to Downtown Pittsburgh. Their third child, John, is currently at University of Florida pursuing his Ph.D.

Advice from the Experts

What is your favorite date night activity?

Lizann: "Billiards, Beer, and Appetizers (BBA) is the way I like to go."

John: "A fine dinner, movie or play, cocktails and whatever happens after that!"

What relationship advice have you shared with your children?

Lizann: "Find someone with similar values across the board on all things that are important to you. You can disagree on an issue, but philosophically you have to be united as one."

John: "Date someone who will make you a better person, someone who will stimulate your mind, your creativity, your passions. Someone who will make you laugh … especially at yourself. Date people who are compassionate and empathetic and will respect your individuality, just as you do theirs."

In celebration of Valentine's Day, Point Park University is pleased to share selected love stories from alumni. Visit the Alumni Relations News and Features page to read more!

More About: journalism, alumni, dance