Black and white photo of Norah O'Donnell (C'95, G'03) wearing a wedding dress and Geoff Tracy (C'95) in a tuxedo on the steps of Healy Hall.
Category: Alumni

Title: Norah O’Donnell and Geoff Tracy’s Love Story at Georgetown

CBS Evening News Anchor Norah O’Donnell (C’95, G’03) met her future husband in the cafeteria line at New South her first week of school.

For Chef Geoff Tracy (C’95), it was love at first sight.

“That was it right away,” said Tracy, president of Chef Geoff’s Deluxe Hospitality in Washington, DC. “In retrospect, it’s a little unbelievable I met the person I’ve been married to my entire life.”

On the Hilltop, O’Donnell and Tracy studied together on the top floor of Lauinger Library, got coffee at Wisemiller’s, and, six years after graduating, married at Dahlgren Chapel.

O’Donnell went on to receive her Master of Arts in liberal studies from Georgetown and start her Emmy-Award-winning career in journalism, covering presidential elections for NBC News and CBS News. She now serves as the anchor and managing editor of CBS Evening News and a correspondent for 60 Minutes. Tracy, who found managing The Corp’s Vital Vittles in undergrad a core career learning experience, graduated first in his class from the Culinary Institute of America and opened two restaurants before he turned 30. He now oversees four restaurants in Washington, DC, and Maryland, and provides food services for Georgetown’s Jesuit residence.

Their Hoya experience, O’Donnell and Tracy say, shaped the rest of their lives, from their career trajectory to their marriage.

An image of Norah O'Donnell and Geoff Tracy (center) standing together with their three children in front of a Christmas tree inside a home. Norah wears a red dress, her son (left) wears a black blazer suit and green pants. Geoff wears a blue suit, and their two daughters (right) wear black dresses.
O’Donnell and Tracy have three children and live in Washington, DC.

“Georgetown is a huge part of our identity,” Tracy said. “Washington, DC, became our home because of Georgetown University.”

“It was meant to be to meet each other there,” O’Donnell said. “Part of the reason we both chose Georgetown was for its academics and its values. We still have strong ties to the university and decided to live in Washington, DC, as a result. For us, it was incredibly formative.”

In celebration of Valentine’s Day, learn more about their meet-cute in the cafeteria line, the career opportunities they discovered on the Hilltop and the secret to their 21-year marriage. This interview has been edited and condensed for clarity. 

Q: How did you first meet?

Norah: Geoff and I met in 1991 in the cafeteria line at New South cafeteria. It was the first week of school. My roommate had gone to Taft boarding school and was wearing a Taft T-shirt, and Geoff and his roommate had gone to Choate [boarding school]. So that was the opening to have a conversation.

Geoff: We used the sweatshirt to make the opening conversation. You have to have some sort of in, otherwise you’re just a random <laughs>. Norah grew up in Texas, and she had a whole different look about her than the people I had gone to boarding school with in New England. I was like, ‘We have to go talk to them.’ So we found the courage and went over and said hi. … In retrospect, it’s a little unbelievable that I met the person I’ve been married to my entire life. 

Norah: We always say we have known each other and been together for more than half of our lives. I’m 49, and Geoff recently turned 50.

Geoff: I’m 40 plus 10.

Q: When was your first date? When did your relationship become official?

Geoff: It didn’t become official until we got married and she officially said I do <laughs>. A young relationship like that can go in a lot of different directions. But Norah was someone I wanted to hold onto. Oct. 4, 1991, was sort of our first anniversary.

Norah: Oct. 4, we went to the Dubliner [a bar in Washington, DC] with our group of friends. There was a creepy old guy who was hitting on me. We cooked up a scenario where Geoff would propose to me to get the creepy old guy away from me.

Geoff: I went over to the guys and said, ‘I’m so nervous, I gotta ask her to marry me!’ It was announced over the loudspeaker [at the bar]. They were like, ‘We have an engagement here tonight!’

Norah: That’s part of the Hilltop experience.

Geoff: It was kind of a sweet, fun way to meet someone and start a relationship. The rest was history. We’ve got three kids now and two dogs <laughs>.

Q: Did you have any fun date or hang-out spots on the Hilltop that were special to you both?

Geoff: Not to be too nerdy about it, but for our regular date night, we went to Lauinger Library. We’d go up to the top floor, find a table and spend some time, do some studying and get a coffee.

Q: This is a bit of a cheesy question, but was there a moment at Georgetown when either of you knew you wanted to be with the other long-term?

Geoff: For me, it was in the cafeteria line. That was it right away. It took her a little bit longer to come around.

Norah: Isn’t that sweet? For Geoff, it was love at first sight. Which I do think is important for a guy to be totally in love with the woman. <laughs>

Geoff: You got me still working <laughs>.

Norah: But even though it was love at first sight for you, I had to convince you to get married. … We got engaged in the fall of ‘99. It took a while.

Geoff: She dropped a lot of hints that I didn’t see. In retrospect I should have seen them.

Norah: We’ve never assumed that the other one is perfect. That’s been the secret to our marriage. <laughs>

Geoff: We definitely both have flaws <laughs>. Sometimes you have to hit somebody over the head with it, and I was one of those people.

Norah: The nice thing is we did get married in Dahlgren Chapel, and Fr. Conroy, SJ, who lived right next door to Geoff since freshman year, married us.

Tracy was honored with the Flame of Hope award by Georgetown Pediatrics Gala in 2019 for his work promoting healthy eating for children.

Q: Looking back on your Georgetown experience, it was your education and a big part of your lives, but it was also where you fell in love. How do you look back on Georgetown today? What does the school mean to you?

Norah: I just feel so grateful that I got in <laughs>.

Geoff: I think both of us were skin-of-our-teeth qualified to get into Georgetown. <laughs>

Norah: One, we’re grateful we got in. And two, it was meant to be to meet each other there. I’m also thankful for the friendships we found along the way. We still have strong ties to the university and decided to live in Washington as a result. I think people have different experiences in college. For us, it was incredibly formative, and it shaped the rest of our lives.

Geoff: It definitely is the reason why we’re still in Washington. We loved it and it gave us opportunity. You covering politics was something you found when you did an internship at ABC while at Georgetown.

“It’s not just the academics — it’s the values that surround Georgetown that led us to form these lifelong friendships with people we have a lot in common with.”

-Norah O’Donnell (C’95, G’03)

Norah: Part of the reason we both chose Georgetown was for its academics and its values. Because many people were attracted to the values of Georgetown University, that led to a group of people we instantly became friends with. So that’s what I think about too: It’s not just the academics — it’s the values that surround Georgetown that led us to form these lifelong friendships with people we have a lot in common with.

Geoff: And for me the experience of working at Vital Vittles was awesome.

Norah: This is about our love, not about Vital Vittles! <laughs>

Geoff: I know, but how many times did you come see me and get a bagel and a Diet Coke or something?

<both laugh>

Norah: That was the thing back then, to go get a bagel and then the little tubs of cream cheese.

Geoff: Yeah, we had the little tubs of cream cheese.