In affairs of the heart, sometimes you just know it’s right. That was the case in Rob and Janet Sarnoski’s case.
Rob, who heads the school resource officer program at Louisa County Public Schools, and Janet, a nurse at UVA Hospital, were married on Valentine’s Day 32 years ago.
It was a stroke of chance that the two even met. In 1986, Rob was a fighter pilot in the U.S. Air Force and served as chief of flying safety at MacDill Air Force Base in Tampa, Florida.
The captain’s commanding officer asked him to attend a Tuesday morning briefing and blood drive in his place. Rob really didn’t want to go— he would have rather been flying—but did what he was asked. There, he met Janet, a 2nd lieutenant and physical therapist at the base hospital, as well as the blood drive officer.
Rob didn’t pay much attention during the briefing. All he could focus on was the dark-haired beauty giving the presentation. He debated whether to ask her out and worried that she wouldn’t be interested in a divorceé caring for two young daughters.
But he summoned up the courage to introduce himself to her after the briefing and they realized they had a few things in common. She agreed to go out with him on a canoe trip.
They canoed on a nearby river, held hands at a Fourth of July gathering and by the third day Rob had popped the question. She immediately agreed and called her parents in New England to tell them she had met a man she really liked and was engaged.
“One of the things that really made me fall in love with him was what kind of dad he was with his girls…,” Janet said. “And he let me know right away it was a package deal, and I wanted any children we had to have a dad like that. He was pretty special. Still is.”
Rob teased that one of the reasons he asked her so quickly is the fact that fighter pilots are mission-oriented.
“I thought she was very cute, very open, very loving, and she loved the girls from the moment she met them,” he said. “All those things kind of combined and I said, ‘I know.’”
Seven months later they were wed in a small civil ceremony in a garden in Tampa with a few family members and their daughters in attendance. Their first son, Chris, was born in December of 1988 and Joseph was born in 1989.
Janet retired from her military career and she and their four children followed Rob around the world to his various assignments.
His tours of duty landed the family in multiple states and three countries over the years. The family lived in Nevada, Kansas, Germany, Alabama, Idaho, Norway, Virginia and Thailand.
“This was the proverbial life in the fast lane,” Rob said.
Two of their children graduated high school in Norway, two went to high school for a time in Bangkok and all of the children attended schools in Germany.
Through it all they shared many adventures as a family, as a couple and individually.
Both are outdoors people and Janet wasn’t afraid to hop in a car and travel all over whichever continent they were living on at the time when Rob was away on assignments.
“Rob has always been very supportive of me,” Janet said.
And, as is typical on a military base, they had a great network of friends who helped out whenever needed.
(Article by Deana Meredith)
This is a partial article. Read the full story in The Central Virginian’s Feb. 14, 2019 issue.
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