WSU Love Story: ‘Full-House’ edition

Fraternity brothers become step-fathers of happily blended Coug family



2007 graduates Aaron and Alona Horner (left) and 2006 graduate Karl Koehler (right) now share 2 children between them, Evanlee and Aiden.


When Alona Horner transferred to WSU in 2004, she was unaware of the whirlwind of Coug-filled romance that was in store. 

Alona met her current husband, Aaron Horner, at a WSU Alive Orientation during the summer before she started school in Pullman. 

“We instantly connected and had a friendship from then on,” she said. 

The two remained friends throughout their time at WSU, occasionally bumping into each other around Pullman. Aaron would later go on to say he fell in love with Alona the second he laid eyes on her, but we will come back to him and their love story later. 

Alona said she fell in love with Karl Koehler in 2007 during her senior year. Karl is an ’06 alumnus that was working for the Whitman County Sheriff’s Department as a reserve deputy.  

When Alona finally introduced Karl to Aaron, she said she was surprised to find out they were both members of the Sigma Chi fraternity and had already been friends for quite some time. 

“When I found out she was dating a fraternity brother of mine, I was like ‘well, son of a gun,’” Aaron said. 

Aaron said he remained in love with Alona throughout her relationship with Karl. Aaron and Alona were so close at the time they even went out for parents’ weekend and other university events together. 

“Alona kept on always being in my life,” Aaron said. “[I was always] running into her, or my dad was in town, and we took her out to dinner one night. My dad always said, ‘man, she’s the one. Whatever happened to Alona.’”

Alona moved in with Karl after she graduated, and soon afterward, they were engaged.

“He got a job as a deputy sheriff in Clallam County, and so we moved out to Sequim, Washington,” Alona said. 

Karl and Alona married in 2008 and welcomed their son Aiden into the world in 2010.

Alona said soon after the birth of their son Aiden, both she and Karl decided to file for a divorce in 2011. 

“It was kind of a joint decision,” Alona said. “Him being a police officer, he had weird nights and weird shifts, and we just weren’t really connecting anymore. It was pretty lonely for me.”

Karl and Alona continued to be friends after the divorce, and she said she was glad they settled things in a mutual and civil manner. 

Soon after the divorce, Alona reconnected with Aaron and moved out to Renton, where she accepted a job, she said. Aaron was living in Auburn, which is right down the road from Renton. 

“He [Aaron] kind of popped back into my life, and I think I kept him at bay for quite a while there,” she said. 

Alona said they had been a part of each other’s lives for so long, and Aaron was so great with her son Aiden that when she finally decided to give it a go, it went quickly. 

She said they dated for three months before Aaron proposed to her during the 2012 Apple Cup at Martin Stadium. 

When he got down on one knee, Aaron took her to the bench outside the Compton Union Building, where they met for the first time back at that Alive orientation in 2004. 

When Aaron proposed, Alona said the marching band was practicing as they headed to the field and the fight song began to start. That is when the newly engaged couple ran straight to the stadium to watch the game. 

“We won that Apple Cup, rushed the field and celebrated our engagement with all the Cougs that night,” Alona said. 

Aaron became a stepdad to Aiden, and the newlyweds had their daughter Evanlee shortly after. Karl had also remarried at this point and had more children.

Then, a little over a year ago, Karl and his second wife filed for a divorce. Alona said that towards the end of Karl and his ex-wife’s marriage, they made sure to let him know their doors were wide open if he needed a place to stay.

“For me, it was helping a friend out and helping my son’s father out, knowing that whatever we could do for Karl would be beneficial to Aiden as well,” Alona said. 

For Aaron, opening the doors for Karl during a tough time and in a unique situation was also partly due to the brotherhood they shared through their fraternity, she said.

“And so the day came where he had to leave pretty suddenly and pack up his car,” she said. “We were like come on down any hour; we’re here.”

Aiden was jazzed from the beginning when he found out his dad was moving in, Alona said. Her daughter Evanlee has had to adjust a little bit, but she said Evanlee has done really well, and they all have a great time together.

“It’s really good right now, and it’s an interesting dynamic, but I think it’s got a lot of positives,” Karl said. “It allows for all of us to do our own thing while making sure the kids are fully taken care of.” 

They all try to come to visit Pullman as often as possible, Aaron said. It holds a special place in their hearts. They watch every football game, have a Cougar-themed wedding complete with wheat bundles instead of flowers and are never shy about telling everyone they are Cougs.

“Once you leave [Pullman], you still have such a huge community around you,” Alona said. “Whether it’s when you see a license plate or someone wearing the gear in the store. We’re everywhere, and it’s a huge community.”