Blue Devil Love: David & Beth Hatef

There are parties and then there are parties—the kind of gathering that gets talked about with giggles and winks in a hungover haze. Apparently, in September 2008, there was a party at the Lofts at Lakeview on Erwin Road that neither Beth (formerly DeFrancesco) Hatef J.D. ’10 nor David Hatef M.B.A. ’09 attended.

They’d both lived at the Lofts for a year. Beth is a Connecticut native who, a year earlier, had graduated from Johns Hopkins after studying political science. She thought going to law school would give her some flexibility in terms of career choices. “A lot of the law schools I was interested in were locked in the middle of the city, and the students were all spread out,” she says. “But Duke had this sense of community, and I really liked that.”

David grew up in the D.C. area and had attended the University of Maryland-Baltimore County. He’d adopted a love of real estate from his father and, after school, built a successful business in that field. But at twenty-eight, he wanted to do something different, a search that led to thinking about graduate school, and then choosing Fuqua.

They hadn’t met when David walked into the complex’s gym, in the last stages of reading a letter from management about that party, a wordy missive that conjured debauchery and described damage, and asked for help in finding those responsible. It sounds like it was a fun party, David thought; he was a mixture of curious and amused by how dramatic the letter read. So, it was on his mind as he entered the gym and looked up and saw Beth and thought, She’s really cute, and realized that in his hand he had the means for a nice conversation starter.

Whether he asked her if she was at the party or if she’d gotten the letter depends on who’s telling the story—the point is, they started chatting. Beth does remember what she was thinking of this stranger. “He had a perfect smile,” she says. “His teeth were so white, and he seemed really friendly.” And as the party conversation was winding down, David knew he wanted to keep talking to her. “I thought she was smart and well put-together and she had a lot of energy. I really liked her a lot.” He asked her out.

Their first date was at a wine bar. Beth doesn’t remember being nervous, but David says he could tell she was, because she was talking a lot. “I was thinking we had a lot in common and we wanted the same things,” she says. It went well.

David graduated first in 2009 and went back to Washington, so during her third year of law school, because she didn’t have classes on Mondays or Fridays, each Thursday Beth would drive there and spend long weekends. She wasn’t not expecting a proposal; they had talked about marriage, even looked at rings. But David says he’d purposely made it seem marriage was further down the road. It happened on Christmas day, 2009. Beth’s mom helped concoct the moment. They’d all gathered in Connecticut for the holiday and were opening the gifts in their stockings. The last box in Beth’s held a ring, and as she opened it, David lowered to one knee.

They married at a chapel on the grounds of Beth’s high school on November 7, 2010. Now, they have a daughter, Lily, five, and a son, Bodhi, who turns three in October. They live in D.C., where David works as real-estate agent with Sotheby’s International Realty and Beth is an attorney specializing in alcohol beverage law at a global law firm.

And when you ask what has kept their relationship going, the answer circles back to their beginning: Good conversation. “It’s the same thing we had when we first met: easy communication,” says David. “We’re really like best friends. We have so much respect for each other."

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