Finding love in Kiwanis

Debra Dingman | Oct 05, 2021

mike_and_patti You never know where you’re going to find love. For Mike Liu and Patti Sousa, it was at a Kiwanis International convention held in Las Vegas, Nevada.

Both from Northern California, Mike was serving his second year as president of Kiwanis of DeAnza/Cupertino Club as was Patti of the Dixon club.

Although Mike had no children and Patti had only one grown son, both had a faith-filled heart for children and each had several years already behind them for serving their communities.

In the lunch break of a day full of workshops at the conference, Mike was sitting at a Burgers & Brew bar when Patti also came in to eat. The place was packed but there was a seat next to a man wearing a Kiwanis shirt.

There were introductions and chatting about the workshops in between glimpses of personal life where Patti mentioned she was single after noticing Mike wasn't wearing a wedding band.

"We found out we were both going to the Kiwanis International-sponsored Three Dog Night concert later that night. We both went, separately, and even though we discovered later that we were both looking for each other at the front of the stage, we never saw each other," Patti explained as if she just experienced the disappointment again.

She hoped she’d see him before she left the next morning but boarded her plane not even remembering what club he was from; only that it was somewhere in the Bay Area.

“I remembered she lived in Dixon and that she owned a pet grooming business,” said Mike as the couple sat leaning into each other at a nearby Starbucks. “So, I found her website and waited a week and then wrote her a note via email,” the quiet-mannered engineer said, smiling broadly when admitting he didn’t want her to think he was too anxious.

“At first I thought ‘who is this?’ “ Patti giggled. “I was excited and pleased.” She told him about Grillin’ & Chillin’ that she and a friend were going to that weekend and invited him to come over and join them. He did.

At the end of a “wonderful day” at the street fair, they learned they were both going to a Kiwanis District conference a couple months later in Hawaii. Until the trip came, they regularly sent emails and the two had phone calls back and forth.

Mike had been married 27 years and lost his wife to cancer a few years earlier. He was getting ready to retire from the aerospace industry. Patti had been single for as many years, raising her son alone, but finding fulfillment in her work and Dixon social life.

“We were just two friends getting to know each other,” said the outgoing red-haired Patti. He would come over on weekends and help do things around her house, work with her son on projects, and meet her son’s family.

Their first date was dinner at the end of the conference in Hawaii. He gave her a kiss on the cheek goodnight.

“He was leaving the conference a day earlier than I and I was all a twitter!” she said. “I felt like a teenager.” They shared a love of dogs, traveling, the 49ers, and they both loved to dance. They even share a native-American heritage.

“What I love about Mike is that he saw my son at his worst and at his best,” said Patti, starting to tear up.

“We met in Kiwanis. We both joined Kiwanis Special Games for special needs children and adults and I learned what the Dixon Festival of Trees was all about,” Mike said, so he knew what Patti was all about, too, and his affection and commitment grew.

“I love how she cares about other people,” said Mike.

Mike retired and sold his home in the Bay Area and bought a home on West A Street in Dixon to start a new life. After 18 months, Mike proposed on a road trip to Ferndale. They were married on August 22, 2020, in the middle of the pandemic, the dozens of raging wildfires and on the hottest day of the year.

The wedding originally planned before the pandemic was for 150 at the Veteran’s Memorial Hall, but wound up for 50 in the backyard of their A Street home. After a calamity of errors including the reception food getting delivered to Patti's old address, Mike kissed his bride.

It is fair to say Mike loves Patti but really, he super likes Dixon, too.

“I dreamed of traffic like the traffic we have here,” said Mike with a laugh. “My doctor and dentist are a 5-minute walk from our front door.” This is their first anniversary. They’re celebrating at the Kiwanis District convention in San Diego.


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