Wichita’s sweetest couple

Rob Snyder and Susan Peters

Written by Amy Palser

Susan Peters is a sucker for a good story. As a television news anchor for 35 years — 20-plus of those in Wichita — Susan’s entire career has revolved around storytelling. And one of her favorite stories of all time is how she and husband Rob Snyder met and fell in love.

The story starts with a guy from Queens, N.Y., and a girl from San Diego — two happy, career-minded 30-somethings who didn’t know if marriage was in the cards. And (spoiler alert) it ends with a wedding, two kids, lots of post-10-o’clock-news-broadcast dates, and 30 years of love and companionship that are still going strong. “There are ups and downs; it’s not all fun and games, it’s not all euphoria. That’s not what love is,” Susan said. “Love is commitment to a family, to a life, and to another person, no matter what.”

The couple says that to be in love, you have to work on being in love. And it helps when, like Rob and Susan, you find someone you just really like to be around.

A Candle and a Prayer

In the late 1980s, Susan Peters was an adorable, feisty, fun-loving newscaster for Channel 12 Wichita who had dated a lot, but hadn’t fallen in love. “My mother, who’s Catholic, and my Bible study teacher kept telling me to pray for a spouse,” Susan said. “I didn’t want to because I thought, if I ask God, I’ll get some holy-roller weirdo.”

But finally, after a really bad dating experience (one for the books, she says), Susan decided to kiss dating goodbye. “As a last resort, I decided, ‘I’ll do what my mother and Bible study teacher say.’ I said, ‘I’m done dating, God, so forget it. I don’t know if a guy’s going to drop in my lap or what, but I’m done trying to find him.’ ” That was September 1989.

Meanwhile, Rob, a real estate broker who had moved from New York to San Diego, was successful and happy, but it seemed something was missing. In September 1989, Rob’s friend Margaret was planning a trip to Italy and Rob had a mission for her. “I said, I know you’re not Catholic, but when you go to Italy, go in one of those big cathedrals and light a candle for me to get married,” Rob said. Margaret did, and she even snapped a photo of the lit candle.

A few months passed, and in April 1990, Susan was back home in San Diego visiting her parents. The neighbor lady, Margaret — yes, the same Italy-bound Margaret — dropped by Susan’s folks’ house, and when she saw Susan, she had an idea. “Oh, Sue, you have to go out with this guy,” said the would-be matchmaker. Susan gave a firm “no,” citing her no-dating vow. So Margaret pulled out the big guns and went to Susan’s mother. “Dorothy,” she said, “I want to set Sue up with this great Catholic guy and she won’t do it.”

Susan’s mother stepped in. “My mom got mad and told me to go out with him or else if I never got married, she would remind me the rest of my life that I turned down that date,” Susan said with a laugh. So Susan called the number Margaret gave her and made it short and sweet. “I said, ‘Look, Rob, you don’t want to do this, I don’t want to do this. Let’s just go to dinner and get this over with and make everyone happy.’ ”

When Rob arrived to pick up Susan, she was taken aback by his baby blue eyes and dark hair. The two hit it off as they dined near the beach. They were eager to meet for a second date, where Rob told Susan, “Wow, you seem pretty normal, Sue. It’s tough finding a normal woman.” Said Susan, “You don’t understand, Rob, it’s tough finding a normal man!”

Susan confessed during that second date that she had started praying for a spouse seven months before, and then kicked herself for letting out that little secret. But Rob was intrigued. He asked what month she had begun praying. September, she said. “I don’t believe it,” Rob said, and told her about Margaret’s September journey to Italy and the prayer candle.

The rest, as they say, is history. “That picture that Margaret took of the candle is now in our wedding album,” Susan said. The two were married in August 1991.

‘A Great Ride’

After Rob moved to Wichita, the two continued to grow their careers — and they started a new joint venture: welcoming two baby girls over the next six years. (Their daughters, Nikki and Jenna, are now 27 and 23, respectively.) Rob continued in real estate, purchasing distressed properties in Wichita and fixing them up as entry-level rentals. Susan moved to Channel 10, where she anchored the news for 20-odd years before retiring in May 2016.

Susan is still a fixture in the broadcast world, using her platform to help many local charitable organizations, including Salvation Army, Senior Services of Wichita and Wichita’s Littlest Heroes. She is perhaps best known for her work with Susan’s Kids, her own organization that highlights foster kids by giving them air time on the news and Facebook. “I’m proud that 40 percent of the children who are featured are placed in a forever home within a year,” she said.

And while they both have their own projects going, Susan and Rob like to connect by going out to dinner together — Georges French Bistro and 6S are favorites. And they love to share a bottle of champagne, talk and unwind while they lounge in the hot tub on their deck. It’s a tradition they started when the girls were young: a standing date every Friday night after Susan finished the evening news broadcast and the girls were in bed.

As the couple celebrates their 30th anniversary this year, they say there’s no place they’d rather have enjoyed family, careers and love than Wichita. “It’s been a great ride, and Wichita has been a good place to take the ride,” Rob said. “I’ve lived in New York, San Diego, and I’m gonna tell you, I wouldn’t leave this place.”

Acts of Love

Rob Snyder and Susan Peters’ love story has grown to include the people in their community — especially those who are lonely and need a family’s love. Here are a few new projects in which the couple hopes the community will take part.

  • Susan’s passion project, Susan’s Kids, is rolling out Phase III, featuring more Kansas children looking for forever homes, and more heartwarming success stories. Check out susanskids.org for more information.
  • With the pandemic, the number of lonely seniors has skyrocketed, so Susan is working with local senior experts on an Adopt-a-Grandparent program. Look for it soon.
  • Together with local PBS affiliate, Channel 8 PBS Kansas, Susan will be encouraging families to cook together with a new show, “The Family Dinner Table,” featuring local family and chef recipes to make at home, set to debut in the next couple of months.

 
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