In 1962, former Miss New Jersey and Miss Glamour runner up Darlene Mullins, 72, began her journey to earn a college degree in Tennessee State University, but just as it started, it was cut short. She met fellow student John Mullins, a senior from St. Louis, Missouri, who she described as dashing, handsome and “everything to behold,” and they fell in love.

“Love got in the way,” said Mullins, who celebrates 54 years of marriage in August. Speaking to TSU’s Alumni Life, a campus magazine, in 2014, Darlene said “I thought he was the finest thing walking on the campus.” 

She said after courting for a while, they got married a short time later. She said John completed his degree program in 1964 and she took on the role of caring for their home and raising a family. “I came to TSU because I ran track. I wanted to go to the 1964 Olympics. Wilma Rudolph was my idol and I was on my way. I get to TSU and meet the great coach (Ed) Temple, but we bumped heads, because I had to make a choice between his track team or John Mullins,” Darlene said.

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Darlene began a long and successful career in retail and cosmetology after family care got less. John also worked for several corporate and government agencies before starting his company Lions Group, Inc., a marketing and advertising agency in Dallas, Texas. John and Darlene have been supportive of each other over the years and have lived in 6 states over the course of their marriage.

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