Former Portsmouth High School exchange student, Larsen Marquardt, surprises high school romance, Olivia Penn, with trip to the States and a marriage proposal


Courtesy photo Former Portsmouth High School foreign exchange student Larsen Marquardt surprised his girlfriend, Olivia Penn, with trip to the States and a marriage proposal


Courtesy photo Former Portsmouth High School foreign exchange student Larsen Marquardt surprised his girlfriend, Olivia Penn, with trip to the States and a marriage proposal.


Courtesy photo Former Portsmouth High School foreign exchange student Larsen Marquardt surprised his girlfriend, Olivia Penn, with trip to the States and a marriage proposal


Joseph Pratt

rpratt@civitasmedia.com

September 11 was supposed to be just another birthday for Portsmouth native Olivia Penn, but the average day turned out to be one of the most memorable she says she will ever have, unsuspectingly filled with friends, family, and a major surprise.

The day started off to be a bit of a sad one, however, since her boyfriend of nearly six years, Larsen Marquardt, was not going to be with her. Not only that, but she had also been informed that video or phone calls from him would be limited, due of a storm knocking out most communications in a small part of Germany.

German communication is important to Penn, because that is where her boyfriend lives.

Marquardt visited the states as a foreign exchange student in 2009, attending Portsmouth High School. While he walked the halls as a Portsmouth Trojan, he met Penn.

Penn says they quickly fell for each other and began dating. Since then, the two have taken turns traveling to each other several times a year, and have also kept up via video conferencing.

What Penn didn’t know about the “down communication,” however, was that it was a lie. Her boyfriend wasn’t in a communication dead zone. He wasn’t even in the country he told her he was in. With the help of his old host family, especially his host brother, Marquardt devised a plan to make his girlfriend believe he couldn’t be reached and that he would not be making it to her birthday.

Penn says she wasn’t ready for what happened next, which turned out to be not only the best surprise she has ever received, but the most life changing.

Penn is currently living in Columbus, while she studies at Ohio State University.

Marquardt’s host brother, Caleb Keys, called Penn on Friday, telling her that he had made a trip to see her in Columbus. Keys also told her that he had a gift from Marquardt and asked for her to meet him at her apartment. Penn met her old friend in the lobby, where he handed her an iPad that was playing a video of highlights of her relationship with her boyfriend, who was supposedly stuck in Germany without communication.

Keys told Penn to turn around and watch it, because he was told it was for her eyes only.

Penn watched the nostalgic recalling of her relationship with Marquardt, from their earlier days in Portsmouth High School to their recent trips to each other’s homes. When the video came to an end, she turned around to give it back to Keys and was greeted by her family, her boyfriend, and her boyfriend’s host family.

Marquardt was nearly knocked to the floor when Penn jumped on him for a hug. After he took a moment to hold his girlfriend, he then went to the floor anyway, but on one knee.

Penn immediately broke into tears when she saw her boyfriend, who had been separated by oceans for so long, offer her an engagement ring. It was an emotional yes.

Everyone involved has expressed excitement for the young couple, especially the families, from the Penns and Marquardts, to the ever involved Keys family.

Caleb Keys said he was happy to play such an involved role in the proposal of someone he considers his brother.

“It was an honor and truly humbling to be able to help my brother with his proposal plan,” Keys said. “I wish him and Olivia a lifetime of happiness and love.”

Keys also joked that Penn was in on her own surprise at one point and didn’t even know it.

“All of us had been in on this for quite sometime. In fact, as a way to get the ring to Larsen, because he bought it here and had it shipped to me, we knew Olivia was about to visit him during the summer,” Keys said. “Larsen’s older sister had just had a baby, so my dad and myself created this ‘care package’ for her and the baby. We then asked Olivia to take to Larsen in Germany. In this care package, we hid the ring. So, she had it for sometime without knowing.”

Penn said that she enjoyed celebrating her birthday and engagement with the people she loves most. It has been a long journey for the two, in order to cultivate and care for a relationship that has been separated by time zones, bodies of water, different continents, and the average hurtles of life, but she and Marquardt are both looking forward to a new, closer relationship when he moves to the States and they start planning the approaching November 14 wedding.

“It has be challenging and difficult, especially with time zones, but we have also visited each other at least twice a year, but usually more. We have made every attempt to be with, or communicate, with each other” Penn said. “It is the best feeling, to know that we are finally going to be together.”

Reach Joseph Pratt at 740-353-3101, ext. 1932, or by Twitter @JosephPratt03.

Courtesy photo
Former Portsmouth High School foreign exchange student Larsen Marquardt surprised his girlfriend, Olivia Penn, with trip to the States and a marriage proposal
http://portsmouth-dailytimes.aimmedianetwork.com/wp-content/uploads/sites/28/2015/09/web1_Olivia2.jpgCourtesy photo
Former Portsmouth High School foreign exchange student Larsen Marquardt surprised his girlfriend, Olivia Penn, with trip to the States and a marriage proposal

Courtesy photo Former Portsmouth High School foreign exchange student Larsen Marquardt surprised his girlfriend, Olivia Penn, with trip to the States and a marriage proposal.
http://portsmouth-dailytimes.aimmedianetwork.com/wp-content/uploads/sites/28/2015/09/web1_Olivia3.jpgCourtesy photo Former Portsmouth High School foreign exchange student Larsen Marquardt surprised his girlfriend, Olivia Penn, with trip to the States and a marriage proposal.

Courtesy photo
Former Portsmouth High School foreign exchange student Larsen Marquardt surprised his girlfriend, Olivia Penn, with trip to the States and a marriage proposal
http://portsmouth-dailytimes.aimmedianetwork.com/wp-content/uploads/sites/28/2015/09/web1_olivia.jpgCourtesy photo
Former Portsmouth High School foreign exchange student Larsen Marquardt surprised his girlfriend, Olivia Penn, with trip to the States and a marriage proposal

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