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It Took 50 Years, But These Long Lost Lovers Found Each Other Again

Oxy Magazine

I haven't been with my boyfriend for too long and I can't even begin to imagine what it'd be like if for some reason we were forced apart by something beyond our control.

This may not be something most people have to worry about, but for many couples, this is a reality they have lived through, just ask Prentiss Willson and Janice Rude.

The pair first met fifty year ago while they were both students at Occidental College in Los Angeles.

Love at first sight

Rude worked at the campus cafeteria where Willson was a regular, and although none of them admitted it to each other at the time, they had an instant connection.

"I believe we were simply meant to be," Willson told Oxy magazine. "I even remember the first time I laid eyes on Janice." He added that he was the first in line "every day, at 6 a.m., because I just wanted to see her and have our little morning exchange."

However, the idea of dating someone who was "a year ahead" and "just so beautiful," made the freshman nervous so he convinced himself that he didn't have a chance with Rude.

Little did Willson know that Rude fancied him too, so when he didn't show up to their college's pre-Thanksgiving dinner, she went to great lengths to make sure he was fine.

After finding out that he had gone home for the holiday, Rude managed to get his address and drove 150 miles to Santa Maria to surprise him.

Next comes marriage...almost

Over the next little while, the pair got to know each other better, and eventually became engaged, an occasion which was announced in the local paper.

Unfortunately, the lovebirds were faced with a roadblock they didn't expect - Rude's father disapproved of their plans to marry.

He threatened to cut his daughter off, and this meant she would no longer have the financial support she needed to get through the rest of school.

"We tried to figure things out but I guess we weren't smart enough," Willson explained, adding that Rude's mother was extremely supportive, even taking out a second mortgage to help her daughter.

Rude added, "Prentiss and I should have taken his mother’s advice at the time, which was to elope. I became fearful that Prentiss would be attracted to smarter women if I didn’t get a college degree. He did not understand my angst, and so we went our separate ways."

Moving on

As life went on, both Rude and Willson found love with other people and relocated to other cities. It wasn't until tragedy struck both their families that the pair were reunited.

Rude and Willson lost their mothers within months of one another, and in that time, they both found out that the women, who never met, kept copies of their original engagement announcement. Rude's mother even had her clipping laminated and carried it in her wallet for more than 35 years.

"The mothers got it," said Willson. "The mothers simply knew, and I think we [he and Rude] also knew."

The reunion

The pair finally looked each other up, and thanks to the advancements in technology, like social media, they found each other again.

The 69-year-olds had their reunion in 2013, and since they were both single at the time, they were able to rekindle their romance.

50 years after the engagement notice was ran, Willson and Rude said "I do" in a summer wedding held at the Occidental campus. Rude's father had already passed away at the time, so he wasn't able to stop them this time.

They used the announcement as part of their wedding invitations. The couple now live in Yountville, near Napa, and have been making up for lost time.

“We continue to lament every day that we missed being together,” Willson said. “That’s about 17,500 days, but who’s counting?"

I love a happy ending! My heart is so happy that these soulmates found each other again.

Awa has been writing for Shared for 3 years. She is a serial snacker who unapologetically loves celebrity gossip. Drop her a line at awa@shared.com.