Inside Seven
Current Issue: September 2014
Kirsten and Stewart Stahl at a recent holiday event in 2007 -- still happy after all these years.

by  Jeanne Bonfilio
Issue Date: 02/2008

Among the many wonderful benefits of a career at Caltrans are the meaningful friendships and life-long relationships that form over the years. For some very lucky folks, that even includes marriage! Two such fortunate couples are Kirsten and Stewart Stahl and Rosie and Roger San Juan. Caltrans thanks them for sharing their stories below.

A Double-Date in a Single-Engine Plane

In college and having just left military service, the farthest thing from Kirsten Reece’s mind was finding "Mr. Right."  Little did she know, she was about to meet her destiny. 

On her first day of work in December 1979 in the Photogrammetry Office, Kirsten said that new co-workers Clebert Camp and Ed Bierer, kept talking about someone named Stew.  "It was ‘Stew this and Stew that,’" she said.  "And I wondered who this amazing 'Stew' was."  Unbeknownst to her, the next day would begin a life with the man who would become her husband of almost 27 years.

It was on her second day at work, when she met the mystery man in question, Stewart “Stew” Stahl, a mild-mannered, Boston-born engineer.  And within a few months of working together and becoming more acquainted, they learned they had many traits in common: both enjoyed the outdoors, both were fond of animals and each were the oldest child of two.  Both had also served in the Army, and had parents who worked for Caltrans: Ernie Stahl and Marilyn Reece.  With encouragement of his coffee buddies, Stew, a private pilot, asked Kirsten on a date -- and not just any date.  It was a double-date to ride in a single-engine Cessna to Solvang, California!

The couple was married in Whittier at a Quaker meeting house on the first day of spring, March, 1981. After they officially announced their marriage, Stahl transferred down the hall to the Survey Mapping Office, and Stewart, who was in line for a promotion to Transportation Engineer Civil, accepted a position in Environmental Investigations, at the other end of the hall.

In the meantime, Kirsten earned her Bachelor of Science degree from Cal State University at Los Angeles, became a Licensed Professional Engineer, and was promoted to Senior Transportation engineer, just possibly following in her mother’s (Marilyn Jorgensen-Reece, the designer of the I-10/I-405 interchange and the first woman registered Civil Engineer in the state) footsteps.  And Stew moved to Design in 1986, and has become an award-winning designer on several projects, including one on which he and his wife collaborated: the 55-Hour Pavement Rehabiltitation of Interstate 10. 

“Some people wonder how we can stand so much togetherness,” said Kirsten, “such as commuting to and from work, overhearing each other's conversations, and then again at home and on weekends.  “No problem,“ she contends.  ”We still have a lot of interests in common and enjoy each other's company, so why wouldn't we spend time together?”

Congratulations to Kirsten and Stewart Stahl -- still happy after all these years!

Designing Carpool Lanes and a Rock-Solid Foundation for Marriage

Rosie Nuñez was hired at Caltrans in September, 1979 as a Stenographer in Right of Way Acquisition.  Just three months later, on Christmas Eve to be exact, Roger San Juan began his nearly 30-year career at Caltrans a Junior Engineering Technician in Project Development.  Little did either know at the time, but very soon their lives would change forever.   

Taking dictation and writing letters and documents was all in a day's work for Rosie in her early days at Caltrans -- while Roger spent his time working on different design alternatives for the now-elevated High Occupancy Vehicle (HOV), or carpool lanes, on the Harbor Freeway (I-110).   

In just one month's time, the two new hires soon became acquainted in January, 1980, when they were introduced by mutual friend Martin Coronado, also a Caltrans employee -- and a year-long friendship was formed.  During that time, through encouragement from her co-workers, Rosie took courses and eventually promoted into the engineering class.  And through hard work, on-the-job training and promotions, Roger became a Transportation Engineer.   

Their friendship developed into a rock-solid foundation for their eventual marriage which took place in June, 1984.   Rosie is currently working in Traffic Investigations and Roger is employed in the Office of Permits.  The couple enjoy seeing each other at work and try to have lunch together when possible.  Rosie said she feels very lucky.  "We have been so blessed to have gotten our jobs and met here at Caltrans," she said.  And her husband Roger agrees.  "I am fortunate that Caltrans has offered me opportunities and experiences -- and it's where I have also made good friends.  But mostly, it is where I met Rosie."

The couple devote their spare time to their three children: Jessica age 20, who is in college; Brianna, age 15 and David, age 11 -- both who are very active in travel baseball and softball teams. 

Rosie also said that very often she is asked how they make the relationship work so well.  She said that the two feel fortunate to work at Caltrans, especially when their evenings at home often involve one or both of them transporting their children to school and sports events.  The couple also love to vacation and travel together with their children in their recreational vehicle.  And this year they will celebrate their 24th wedding anniversary!

Best wishes to Rosie and Roger San Juan for many happy years to come!

Note:  The editorial staff of the Inside Seven newsletter, would like to feature additional stories about Caltrans couples, brothers and sisters, aunts and uncles and other family stories.  If you would like your family story featured in a future edition, please contact editor Maria Raptis, Media Relations and Public Affairs at (213) 897-9372.


Co-workers in 1980, Stewart Stahl and Kirsten Reece, left, pose with their colleagues in Engineering Services. Rosie and Roger San Juan just one week prior to their wedding in 1984. The San Juan family today, left to right: Roger, David, Rosie, Brianna and Jessica. Kirsten Reece and Stewart Stahl in front of an experimental aircraft on their first date.