June 5, 2023

Kelly Paino: A Valentine Story

A study session washed down with a meal at Godfather’s Pizza brought two college students together. That was nearly four decades ago. Kelly Ragsdale and Troy Paino, who’d both just arrived at a small school in Missouri, have been stuck ever since – to each other and to education.

Chloe, Sophia, and Troy and Kelly Paino on the lawn at Brompton.

Chloe, Sophia, and Troy and Kelly Paino on the lawn at Brompton.

Married 34 years with two grown daughters, Sophia and Chloe, the Painos moved their family across the Midwest – Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri. In 2016, they landed in Fredericksburg, where Troy took the reins as UMW’s 10th president.

As her husband earned degree after degree, so did Kelly, who holds a bachelor’s in business administration, and certifications in elementary and early childhood education. She’s taught preschool and elementary school, and held posts as a reading interventionist and an early childhood education coordinator.

These days, she volunteers alongside UMW students at James Monroe High School and St. George’s Episcopal Church, and observes student teachers in the role she accepted this year as a supervisor in UMW’s College of Education.

She wouldn’t reveal the couple’s plans for Valentine’s Day but said they often snuggle up in front of the TV, binge-watching the latest show they’ve latched onto.

In the midst of it all, Kelly said, she embraces her title as Mary Washington’s first lady. At least she’s working on it.

“It’s hilarious to think of being any kind of ‘first lady,’ and I always think people are referring to someone else when they say that to me,” said Kelly, who just likes to be called “Kelly.” “But I love being part of the UMW community, and I’m so happy we’re here.”

Q: What did you fall for about Troy Paino?
A: He was cute, with his wavy hair (yes, hair!), and tan from working outside all summer, but more importantly, he was funny and kind. I grew up surrounded by joy and laughter, and I place a high premium on humor. No one can make me laugh like Troy! Neither of us takes ourselves too seriously and if one of us does, we get called out.

Q: Where did you honeymoon?
A: Bermuda. We had a blast riding a moped around the island and snorkeling. I hadn’t traveled much and this was a great adventure for me. For people who enjoy the ocean and warmth, we lived in cold places all our married life – until we got to Virginia.

Q: Any secrets for keeping a marriage fresh after three and a half decades?
A: We keep it spicy (don’t worry, I’m not going to say anything inappropriate) by making sure we spend time together. Besides binge-watching TV, we enjoy taking our dog Oscar on walks, playing pickle ball and doing some traveling.

Q: What are you binge-watching right now?
A: Broadchurch and the last season of Homeland.

Q: What little things do you appreciate about Troy?
A: 1) His willingness to be goofy; 2) his ability to find humor in almost any situation; 3) his patience with my need to process (and process …); 4) if he has his phone and one of our daughters calls, he always answers – not always the case with my calls; and 5) he puts the toilet seat down every time.