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Tanner Ott & Mary Anderson

Sometimes an impromptu late night dinner changes everything.

How did you meet?
The first time I met Tanner was through a mutual friend up in Ely, Minnesota, where I was born and raised. Tanner and his family had been coming up to the area for years to stay on a lake outside of town, and when he graduated college, he came to work in my hometown. It wasn’t until a few years later that we started seeing each other – I was waitressing when he came in to grab a late-night dinner and we ended up going for a game of pool after my shift ended.

What was your first date?
That impromptu night out led to a coffee date the next weekend. Over coffee, we planned a day trip to Grand Marais off the shores of Lake Superior. We went to a winery and took a gondola ride to view the fall colors.

What keeps you busy during the week?
M: I really enjoy my job; I teach special education in two elementary schools here in town. I’m also working on my master’s degree and have been able to take advantage of the wonderful trails and community events since moving here.

T: I work with Alley A Realty. We love renovating historic buildings downtown. After the renovation, we lease them out to small businesses, restaurants, artists, and professionals. Depending on the day, I’ll be on a job site with contractors or architects/engineers, showing properties to prospective businesses, and meeting with current tenants. In between meetings, you can usually find me in a coffee shop downtown making phone calls or working on the computer.

What is unique about your relationship?
M: I don’t know that it’s unique, but we have a slight age gap with me being older. Tanner really seems to enjoy highlighting this to others; I am just so happy I held out and found someone I can laugh with and trust. We have never had any major disagreements – on that day trip that we planned with the dogs, we covered any and all-important discussions during the car ride: stances on politics, religion, finance, children, family – and have always been very open and honest with each other.

What is the best quality of your partner?
M: I have roots in the Ojibwe tribe of northern Minnesota and from that heritage comes the seven teachings for being a good person: truth, honesty, wisdom, respect, bravery, love, and courage. Tanner epitomizes all of these things, but I think what he does best is show a genuine interest in whomever he is spending time with. When you talk to him, you can tell he sincerely cares about what is being said or done and actively listens to get to know you better.

T: Mary is incredibly smart. She reads a lot of books and her vocabulary is enormous. I have so much respect for the way she approaches her work and her responsibilities. It’s great to have a partner who you can talk about so many different topics with.

What is your favorite art/culture activity in Columbia?
M: My hometown has a pretty active art community, so coming to Columbia and seeing the North Village Arts District for the first time was really impressive. I love how welcoming this town is. Attending music venues, volunteering with the True/False festival, going to First Friday events, checking out the Farmer’s Market, and being able to appreciate the local art and murals around town is fantastic.

T: First Fridays are my favorite because you can count on something to look forward to each and every month. Walking through the catacombs from gallery to gallery, socializing, seeing art, and experiencing live music with some of Columbia’s most interesting folks is a highlight of living in Columbia.

What is your favorite restaurant in Columbia?
M: Oof. That’s a tough one. I really enjoy Kampai, Bangkok Gardens, Le Bao, Murry’s, Booche’s, 44 Canteen, 1839 Taphouse, and Flyover. I’m sure there’s a ton of places I haven’t been yet, but any of those choices are solid in my book.

T: Where neon signs hang from air handlers, pool cues line the wall like fine art, and a Norm Stewart signed basketball rests atop the backbar who’s patina is only rivaled by the window-side cooktop. Where the chili is hot and the ground chuck is always fresh: Booche’s.

What does the future hold for the two of you?
T: We’ll be married this summer. Hopefully expanding the family someday. I can imagine us old and grey and laughing in rocking chairs by the lake.

Bonus Questions

What do you like to do in your free time?
M: When I’m not working or studying, I enjoy walking the dogs, reading, hanging out (virtually or in-person) with family and friends, and working on beadwork like medallions, earrings, and dog collars. I also like taking spin classes that I’m relying on to get in shape for our summer wedding, but with all the great places to eat in Columbia, it’s an uphill battle.

T: I am lucky to have two springer spaniels that were originally just Mary’s dogs. They are a joy to be around after a long day. We like to cook together and go out to eat together. I like to play a little bit of guitar every week. During COVID, I started rewiring guitars. I have an unhealthy obsession with the Grateful Dead. What a band!

What is the key to a lasting and healthy relationship?
M: Trust, patience, respect, and grace.

T: Laughing often together. It won’t take long being  around Mary to realize that she is hilarious.

What does the future hold for the two of you?
T: We’ll be married this summer. Hopefully expanding the family someday. I can imagine us old and grey and laughing in rocking chairs by the lake.

What are some of your favorite outdoor activities?
M: I grew up hunting and fishing with my dad, so I love being outside. Camping, hiking, or just getting out for a walk, is great. 

T: Enjoying drinks and food outside when the weather is nice is hard to beat.

What has been your favorite project to work on together?
M: When my family started renovating my grandparent’s home in Ely, Tanner was a major help with all the demo work. We all got along so well together; so even though it was a little bittersweet, being able to make special memories while making way for the next generation of kids and grandkids was a really cool experience.

What brought you both to Columbia?
M: Milder winters! And of course, Tanner.

T: I’m a Boone baby.

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