LAS CRUCES, New Mexico - If not for New Mexico State University, the parents of presidential hopeful Pete Buttigieg might never have met, married and later given birth to the son who would grow up to become a presidential contender.
"Joe was great in academics. So was Anne," said NMSU Prof. Gene Cunnar, of Pete's father and mother.
Cunnar and Joe Buttigieg grew from colleagues in the English Department to great friends. Cunnar told ABC-7 he was the best man in the Buttigieg wedding on January 6, 1980 in El Paso.
Joe Buttigieg was an assistant English professor at NMSU, Cunnar said, and Anne Montgomery's specialty was linguistics.
Cunnar had a fond memory of roasting a goat with Joe in the Aguirre Springs campground of the Organ Mountains. He told ABC-7 that Joe introduced him to maltese cuisine.
"I remember he made calamari, which was really good," Cunnar said.
The Buttigieg family moved away from Las Cruces, but Cunnar said he often thought of their family.
"I knew they had a son," Cunnar said. "Their son became the mayor of South Bend, served in the military. Multilingual. Extremely bright."
That son would go on to become one of the front-runners for the Democratic presidential nomination.
"If Pete becomes president, maybe I'll become Secretary of State," Cunnar said with a chuckle.