A Greek Row-mance

WSU alumni Lea Anne and Chris Ries met as freshman; daughters also Cougs

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COURTESY OF LEA ANNE RIES

The Reis family is comprimised entirely of Cougs. Chris and Lea Anne’s daughter Peyton is a 2020 alumna, and their daughter Sydney is currently attending WSU.

JOSIE GOODRICH, Evergreen reporter

Chris Ries was not accustomed to rejection when he came to WSU, so when his wife, Lea Anne Ries, blew him off as a freshman in 1987, he persisted. 

Chris and Lea Anne both lived in the Stephenson South dorms as freshmen, back when there was still grass around the buildings. Chris saw Lea Anne for the first time at the beginning of fall when it was still warm outside, he said.

“I saw a good lookin’ gal out there sunbathing in a bikini I called it the beach out there on the lawn,” he said. “I told my roommate, ‘Hey, I know where I’m going.’ I went upstairs, put on some shorts, grabbed a towel and zipped down there.” 

Despite an entire open lawn, and Lea Anne being the only person sunbathing, Chris laid down less than six feet from her. She wouldn’t even glance in his direction or give him the time of day, he said. 

“She was trying to open a seltzer water and I saw my opening. She hands it to me, I open it for her, she says thanks without ever looking at me once and goes back to reading,” Chris said. “I went down in flames. And that is the only time I ever went down in flames on the beach. I always got a date on the beach.”

Chris gave up for the time being until another opportunity presented itself during his second semester in Pullman. Chris and his roommates had transformed their dorm to have bunk beds and a bar inside of it.

He said he invited Lea Anne and a girlfriend to come up to visit, but was shot down again.

Fast forward to their sophomore year and Chris joined the Kappa Sigma fraternity while Lea Anne joined Alpha Chi Omega. The two never saw each other until Greek Week rolled around in the spring, and Chris saw her across the chapter floor at an event, he said.

“I don’t know what got into me. I mean, I’ve gone down in flames twice. If I went down in flames I moved on; there were other women,” he said.  “I crowded my way through that whole crowd, got over there, tapped her on the shoulder and I said, ‘how are you doing?’ And she said, ‘Oh hi.’ We suddenly hit it off like we had been dating for years.”

They began dating that spring in 1989 and dated until their senior year when Chris asked Lea Anne to marry him. 

“We picked out our engagement ring in downtown Pullman,” Lea Anne said. 

They were married in August 1991, just a few months after graduating from WSU and before Chris started law school at Gonzaga University. Two of Lea Anne’s sorority sisters and five of Chris’s fraternity brothers were in their wedding, Lea Anne said.

After graduating from law school they moved to Moses Lake, Wash. where Chris grew up for part of his childhood. He said they still live there with their two daughters, Peyton and Sydney. 

“Like any other kid who graduated high school, I wanted to get the heck out of here, but after being gone enough years I wanted to go back,” Chris said. “Seven years later that’s where I wanted to go.”

In 1998 they gave birth to their first daughter, Peyton. Peyton is a 2020 Cougar alum and followed in Lea Anne’s footsteps by becoming a member of the Alpha Chi Omega sorority. 

In 2003, they gave birth to their second daughter, Sydney. Sydney is currently a freshman philosophy major at WSU and a member of the Kappa Delta sorority. 

Lea Anne’s parents, aunt, and uncle went to WSU, and her grandparents on both sides lived in Pullman. Her grandfather was a professor at WSU and her uncles’ grandfather was even named after the Stephenson Complex, she said.

The Ries family has continued to come down for sporting events and tailgates since Peyton was in school, especially since Chris was one of the long relief pitchers for the WSU baseball team his junior year, he said. 

“Every time my mom and dad come here they say it feels like home and they feel young again,” the youngest daughter Sydney said. 

When the Ries’s came down for games during Peyton’s college years, Sydney got a feel for the school and for Greek Row, she said.

“I was young and it was my sister’s freshman year when I came here a lot during the football games, and she showed me around Greek row,” Sydney said. “That’s the reason I’m in a sorority because without my parents and sister, I probably wouldn’t have been in one.”

Lea Anne said that having met her husband at WSU and now both her children being WSU students has been nothing but special for her. Pullman is home and she loves the time and memories spent here.