These Preschool Sweethearts Lost Touch, But 20 Years Later Everything Changed

We’ve all heard of high school sweethearts, but what about preschool sweethearts? Matt Grodsky and Laura Sheel were just that. The two met in preschool when they were only three years old and they formed an incredible bond. The pair was attached at the hip and Matt even proclaimed his love for Laura in front of the entire class. But as they grew up and went to different schools, distance got the best of them and soon enough, their friendship was cut short. That is, until their paths crossed again one day…

Matt and Laura Met at Preschool

kids on couch
Grodsky Images
Grodsky Images

The story of Matt Grodsky and Laura Scheel starts nearly 25 years ago. The two met at their Phoenix, Arizona preschool when they were just three years old. Right away, they became best friends.

Matt first noticed Laura on the playground and knew he wanted to be her friend, so he started following her around. Soon enough, Laura warmed up to Matt and they became inseparable. Although their parents thought their friendship was adorable, they didn’t think much of it. After all, they were just little kids.

Laura Thought Matt Was a Total Goofball

kids with toys in the background
Grodsky Images
Grodsky Images

Matt knew he wanted to be friends with Laura so he would follow Laura around the playground all day. He even said in an interview with Today, “I don’t remember the first time I saw her, but she was always a girl who let me follow her around.”

At first, Laura thought he was a total goofball for following her around, but she realized just how funny and warm-hearted Matt really was. Soon enough, she and Matt were best friends. The pals did everything together, from playing hide-and-seek on the playground to mischievously staying up during naptime.

The Two Were Inseparable

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Grodsky Images
Grodsky Images

For Matt and Laura, playing together at preschool wasn’t enough — they wanted to hang out more! By this point, the two best friends’ parents knew each other so the little ones started playing on the weekends too. They planned fun playdates and went to the movies with each other, with parent chaperones of course. Matt would even grab Laura’s hand during the scary parts of movies they watched.

The two pals were clearly inseparable, and although Matt was just four years old, he wanted everyone to know how he felt about Laura!

Matt Always Tried to Impress Laura

kids on ground
Grodsky Images
Grodsky Images

It’s funny to think back to when we were little kids and remember the things we did to impress our friends. Whether it was showing off our collection of Pokemon cards or swinging extra high on the swings, those days were much sweeter!

Matt loved his best friend Laura and was always trying to impress her. One of his favorite ways to show off how cool he was was to recite lines from his favorite Disney movies like The Lion King.

Laura Taught Matt Lots of Things

laura and matt
Grodsky Images
Grodsky Images

Matt may have spent lots of time trying to impress Laura, but Laura effortlessly impressed him! She even taught him lots of things too. For example, Laura was the one who taught Matt how to swing on a swing. She also taught him how to draw rolling hills and even how to eat string cheese the right way.

These things might seem minor to us now, but when someone teaches you things like this as a kid, they become the moments you remember for the rest of your life.

Little Lovebirds

friends on the beach
Grodsky Images
Grodsky Images

By the time they were four years old, everyone knew that Matt and Laura were best friends. It was easy to see since the pair was attached at the hip even on the weekends! Their friendship was undoubtedly special. Everyone thought the two were little lovebirds — even Matt.

One day, Matt stood in front of the class and declared that one day, he would marry Laura, saying, “Just you wait!” Unsurprisingly, his classmates laughed at him. After all, how many of your childhood friends do you still keep in touch with?

Preschool Pals

friends in water
Grodsky Images
Grodsky Images

While no one took Matt’s declaration seriously, he and Laura remained best friends throughout preschool. They continued to set up playdates outside of school and always attended each other’s birthday parties.

Even though they were just four years old, their bond was clearly special. It truly seemed like Matt’s declaration might not even be so absurd! But as preschool came to a close, the best friends were about to go through a big change — starting kindergarten.

Matt and Laura Start Kindergarten

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Grodsky Images
Grodsky Images

Before they knew it, the day was finally here: Matt and Laura were starting kindergarten. The two had graduated from preschool and were ready to start the next chapter of their lives.

Starting kindergarten is a big step in any child’s life, but it was even more bittersweet for Matt and Laura. The preschool friends weren’t sure if they would be put in the same class and were starting to realize their days of playing with each other all day might be over.

The Friends Went to Different Elementary Schools

matt and laura on a couch together
Grodsky Images
Grodsky Images

Not only were Matt and Laura not in the same kindergarten class, but they also weren’t even enrolled in the same school. Of course, this wasn’t a deliberate choice made by their parents, but rather, it was dictated by where they lived.

Still, the best friends were upset when they realized they wouldn’t be able to play together as much anymore. Their parents didn’t seem to understand how attached they were either, and simply assured the kids they would still get to play together on the weekends.

They Hung Out Every Now and Then

kids hanging out
Grodsky Images
Grodsky Images

Their parents assured the two pals that would still get to play together on the weekends, but this was only partially true. Life gets busy, and before they knew it, Matt and Laura’s time together was steadily dwindling.

Still, the duo tried to hang out whenever they could. They even took this sweet Christmas card photo with two of their other friends one year! Unfortunately, as the two finished kindergarten and went on to other grades, they started seeing each other on fewer occasions.

They Only Kept In Touch Through Christmas Cards

MyLoupe / Contributor
MyLoupe / Contributor

As the years went by, Matt and Laura saw each other at a declining rate. While they once played every day and even took Christmas photos together, now the old friends only kept in touch when their families exchanged Christmas cards in the mail.

While the two missed each other, they were busy with school, homework, family, and new friends. It appeared they were simply going through the motions of everyday life.

Distance Doesn’t Always Make the Heart Grow Fonder

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Grodsky Images
Grodsky Images

They say distance makes the heart grow fonder, but this isn’t always true. It definitely wasn’t true for Matt and Laura. Several years passed and the two old friends no longer eagerly awaited new Christmas cards. They were growing up and living their own separate lives.

As we grow up and are constantly learning new things, meeting new people, and having new experiences, it’s all too easy to forget about our past. For a moment in time, it seemed as though Matt and Laura had had a sweet childhood friendship but had grown up and moved on.

The Friends Started Their Freshman Year of High School

Laura with a friend
Grodsky Images
Grodsky Images

Before they knew it, nearly 10 years had passed and Matt and Laura were ready to start high school. Again, they were enrolled in different schools. At this point, the old frie nds rarely thought about each other. After all, it had been almost a decade since they were really close.

But one day, something unbelievable happened. During the fall of her freshman year, Laura was on her friend’s phone when she noticed a familiar name pop up.

Old Memories Came Flooding Back

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Grodsky Images
Grodsky Images

Laura was shocked to see Matt’s name before her eyes and suddenly the sweet childhood memories came flooding back! She asked her friend how she knew Matt and apparently, the two had met in middle school. Suddenly, the world was feeling much, much smaller!

Laura told her friend about her and Matt’s preschool romance. She decided it was best not to think too much about it, but her friend had other ideas…

Laura’s Friend Decides to Play Matchmaker

laura posing
Grodsky Images
Grodsky Images

Immediately after Laura finished telling her friend about her and Matt’s preschool romance, her friend had a crazy idea. She wanted to set Matt and Laura up! Laura’s friend thought about it and realized it could be a good match.

Laura’s friends told her the idea, but Laura was hesitant at first. After all, she knew nothing about Matt anymore. The two hadn’t spoken in years. There was no way things would be the same. Or would they?

Laura’s Friend Gave Matt Her Number

Kim Kulish/Corbis via Getty Images
Kim Kulish/Corbis via Getty Images

Laura was understandably nervous at the idea of being set up with Matt. Not only was she nervous, but she wasn’t even sure if she should really have a boyfriend at the time.

Laura told People, “I was a freshman in high school so I was like, ‘I don’t think so!’” But despite her reservations, Laura’s friend had a good feeling about her two friends. She went ahead and gave Laura’s number to Matt.

Matt Texted Laura Right Away

laura with a friend
Grodsky Images
Grodsky Images

Not long after Matt got Laura’s number, he texted her and soon enough, the two were chatting and agreed to meet up. They set up a date and decided they would go see a movie together.

The two met up and immediately it was like no time at all had passed. Matt even told People that he knew it was love at first sight. Just like when they were in preschool, the old friends hit it off right away!

They Hit It Off!

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Grodsky Images
Grodsky Images

While Matt and Laura had been best friends in preschool, there was no way to know that they would hit it off now that they were teenagers. Their first date went off without a hitch and soon enough they were boyfriend and girlfriend.

Although they went to different high schools, now that they were able to drive, it was easier to keep up with their relationship. Once again, they were inseparable, accompanying each other to high school dances and other functions.

They Had a Tough Decision to Make

Matt and Laura graduating
Grodsky Images
Grodsky Images

With their senior year in full swing and college on the horizon, the couple had a tough decision to make. They had already been separated once before and didn’t want to lose each other again. But they were going to different colleges in different states and didn’t want to miss out on experiences either.

“Right after we graduated from high school, we were pretty hesitant,” said Laura in an interview with People. “We were like, ‘Do we stay together? Do we try to make it work?’” They had gone to different schools before, but this time, they would be 1,000 miles away.

Distance Makes the Heart Grow Fonder This Time

Couple Years later and together pic

Eventually, Matt and Laura decided they would go away to their respective colleges but would try to make a long-distance relationship work. While Laura went to Northern Arizona University, Matt moved to Chicago to attend Columbia College. They were now 1,600 miles away from each other.

While distance may not have made their hearts grow fonder when they were just kids, this time it was different. They were committed to making it work!

They Were Up for the Challenge

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Grodsky Images
Grodsky Images

The couple knew being so far apart would be a challenge, but they cared so deeply for each other that they wanted to do everything they could to make it work. They made sure to fully immerse themselves in college life, but also keep up a healthy relationship with one another.

This wasn’t always easy, especially because they were in different time zones. But thanks to social media and Facetime, they were able to “see” each other every day. They even made frequent trips to visit one another in their new homes.

They Were Apart for Nearly Six Months

couple in winter
Grodsky Images
Grodsky Images

Although they had social media and Facetime to keep up with one another, they still had long stretches of time when they couldn’t see each other in person. The longest stretch they had between visits was nearly six months.

While they were in college, they each realized something big: they truly wanted to be together. But the distance between them was becoming a challenge for both of them — especially Matt. He knew he had to do something about it.

Senior Year

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Grodsky Images
Grodsky Images

Soon enough, it was senior year all over again, only this time it was their senior year of college. Matt knew he wanted to celebrate the two starting their last year of school in a big way. While they were both home during the summer, he had an idea for an adorable date.

Since they both had been working so hard in school, he wanted to surprise Laura with a date that would be relaxing and romantic. He planned a picnic at their preschool! How sweet is that?

Matt Had Something Else Up His Sleeve

couple in black and white
Grodsky Images
Grodsky Images

While Matt did indeed plan to have a relaxing and romantic picnic at the sweet location, that wasn’t all that he had planned.

“I convinced Laura that we were going to a picnic at the preschool. We had just finished up our junior year of college, so I framed it as a nice relaxing date,” Matt told the Huffington Post. Although they had been together for years at this point, Laura still never saw his surprise coming.

Laura Was So Touched by the Thoughtful Gesture

18a close up shot of matt and laura
Grodsky Images
Grodsky Images

Laura knew that Matt had planned a picnic for the two of them, but she had no idea that he had planned for their picnic to be at the preschool where they met nearly 20 years ago.

Matt was more than excited to surprise Laura with the gesture. He thought the preschool was the perfect symbol to help celebrate their relationship. He truly valued their unique love story and wanted to take Laura back to where it all started.

Matt Was Noticeably Nervous

matt and laura as adults
Grodsky Images
Grodsky Images

Before the couple arrived at the preschool Laura noticed that Matt appeared to be nervous. He seemed to be constantly fidgeting in his seat the whole car ride. She figured it was because he was taking her to a surprise location.

When they finally arrived at the preschool, Laura was completely overwhelmed by the thoughtful gesture. She already felt so lucky to have Matt in her life, but now her emotions were running high.

Will You Marry Me?

matt proposes to laura
Grodsky Images
Grodsky Images

Laura was already so surprised that Matt had planned this picnic for the two of them at their old preschool. But she was about to get an even bigger surprise when suddenly, Matt got down on one knee and asked his girl to marry him.

Laura was shocked. “I was like, ‘Oh my gosh, is this happening?’ I saw the ring and was like, ‘This is gorgeous. I’m so happy with it.’ I had no idea,” she told People. But of course, she said, “YES!”

Matt Started Planning Months Before The Amazing Proposal

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Grodsky Images
Grodsky Images

Matt may have proposed to Laura on May 23, 2015, but he had been planning the special event for months. He purchased the gorgeous engagement ring months before, and even asked Laura’s dad for his blessing prior to popping the question.

Matt also made sure to have his brother hide out at the preschool so he could capture the engagement on camera. The cutest thing of all is that Matt used his parent’s old picnic basket that his father had used to propose to his mom! His parents even packed the basket with sparkling cider and wedding magazines.

Proposing In the Place It All Began

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Grodsky Images
Grodsky Images

Although Matt and Laura were still in college, he decided he didn’t want to wait until they both graduated. He knew Laura was The One and wanted to make things official. So he decided to stay true to his preschool pledge.

“I proposed to her at the place it all began … our preschool classroom,” Matt proudly recalled to the Huffington Post. He added, “When you like someone, you just kind of stand up and say it.” That’s exactly what Matt did 20 years ago, and it’s what he did when he asked Laura to be his wife.

Matt and Laura Tie the Knot

matt and laura sitting
Grodsky Images
Grodsky Images

Matt and Laura officially wed on December 30, 2016 at the Arizona Historical Society. As if the preschool sweethearts weren’t already the picture of true love, they chose Elton John’s “Can You Feel the Love Tonight” for their first dance — a nod to Matt’s numerous Disney one-liners when they were just kids.

Matt’s uncle was even the one to officiate their marriage and put it perfectly saying, “For most kids in preschool, it’s about finding your snacks and your sleeping mats, but for them it was about finding their soulmates.”

Everyone Came to Celebrate Their Love

matt and laura kissing
Grodsky Images
Grodsky Images

Matt and Laura’s wedding was obviously a special day for them, but it was even more special for them to be able to share their love story with their friends and family. Having everyone they love together, celebrating them and dancing the night away was the best gift they could have ever asked for.

“Our favorite part of the wedding was the dancing and having everyone we love there to celebrate with us,” Matt and Laura said in an interview with People. “We tore it up on the dance floor and it was great being surrounded by everyone who played a part in bringing us together,” they added.

Off to Maui!

couple on the beach
Grodsky Images
Grodsky Images

Now that Matt and Laura were officially a married couple, it was time to keep the celebration going. After they said ‘I do,’ the couple jet off on their honeymoon to the gorgeous island of Maui. There they spent nearly two weeks exploring everything the island has to offer. More importantly, they got to enjoy time with each other.

Laura was over the moon with happiness, but she wanted to find a sweet way to share their love story with the world. The couple never anticipated what would happen next.

Laura Shared Their Story With “The Way We Met”

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Grodsky Images
Grodsky Images

For as long as Matt and Laura could remember, their friends and family would tell them how special their relationship was. While she always knew their relationship was rare, Laura was now officially a Grodsky, and wanted to share their story!

Laura shared a cute snapshot of the two at preschool next to a recent photo, along with the story of how they met, with “The Way We Met.” The Instagram account frequently shares the heart-warming stories of how couples met, and knew they had to share Laura’s as soon as she submitted it.

Matt and Laura Go Viral

picture at a waterfall
Grodsky Images
Grodsky Images

In the post that she shared, Matt and Laura explain their whirlwind romance that started when they were just three years old. “I was enamored with Laura as a child, and I still am to this day,” Matt said.

The Way We Met shared the newlywed’s story and soon enough, they went viral! Everyone loved reading about Matt and Laura’s love story. While the couple knew people would likely enjoy their story, they never expected for the response to be quite as great as it was.

Hundreds of Thousands of People Read Their Story

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Grodsky Images
Grodsky Images

When “The Way We Met” shared Matt and Laura’s story, it initially received more than 30,000 likes and nearly 1,000 comments. Laura received a notification that their story had been shared with nearly 400,000 followers. But before they knew it, numerous media channels were reaching out to the couple to get all of the information on their love story.

The couple was contacted by media outlets like the Huffington Post, The Today Show, and People — who even ran a full-length story on them.

What’s Next for the Grodskys?

matt and laura standing in front of an arrow
Grodsky Images
Grodsky Images

So what’s next for the Grodskys? The couple has been married for almost two years now and they are living life to the fullest. Matt and Laura are both living in their home state of Arizona where Matt works as an account executive at a digital marketing agency and Laura works for a non-profit that helps foster children.

The two recently bought a new house and have been enjoying adding special touches to make their house a home.

They’re Puppy Parents

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Grodsky Images
Grodsky Images

One of the couple’s big milestones of the last two years? They became parents… well, sort of. After they got married, Matt and Laura added a furry companion to their family — an adorable puppy named Kirby.

Between their new home, new puppy, and working full time, the couple sure does have their hands full! But that doesn’t mean a baby isn’t in their future. In fact, a baby might be on the horizon relatively soon

They Want Kids One Day

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Grodsky Images
Grodsky Images

Although the young couple has their hands full right now, kids are very much in their future. “We would love to have kids at some point,” Laura said in an interview with People. “Right now we are focused on our new puppy Kirby and our new house.”

It’s no surprise they’re waiting to grow their family. After all, the two have had a busy few years between graduating, getting engaged, their wedding, buying a home, and adopting a puppy!

Appreciating What They Have

matt and laura hugging
Grodsky Images
Grodsky Images

From meeting at preschool when they were three years old to not seeing each other for eight years to rekindling their friendship and eventually falling in love — Matt and Laura undoubtedly have a once-in-a-lifetime love story. And they make sure they never forget or take it for granted!

“The best thing about our relationship is we are just silly and we appreciate each other every day,” they told People. “Having gone through a long distance relationship, you learn really quick how much the other person means to you and we value our time.”

Their Favorite Things

matt and laura on the beach
Grodsky Images
Grodsky Images

Matt and Laura may still be newlyweds, but they’ve been together for years and know a thing or two about making a relationship work. One thing that’s important to them is drive and positivity.

“My favorite thing about Matt is his humor, he always makes me happy and he is the most driven person I know,” Laura says. “He is always moving forward.” Matt added “My favorite thing about Laura is her infectious smile and her desire to help those who are less fortunate. She is a force for good and it’s inspiring to be around her every day.”

Dad Called Off Her Wedding, But She Found Something In Mom’s Purse 50 Years Later That Changed Everything

It was love at first sight for college lovebirds Janice Rude and Prentiss Willson. After weeks of shy glances in the cafeteria, the two would eventually fall in love. The crazy students were so infatuated that they would end up getting engaged. It seemed that everything was working out for the pair – until an angry force caused them to break off the engagement and move in different directions with their lives. Almost half a decade later, tragedy would strike and bring them together again, but the second time around things were incredibly different.

A Classic Love Story Begins

CardboardSoyuz/Reddit
CardboardSoyuz/Reddit

Janice Rude and Prentiss Willson were just two unsuspecting college students back in the early ’60s. They would eventually fall in love while studying at Occidental College in Los Angeles, California.

Rude was a sophomore working towards a biology degree, while Willson was a freshman getting acquainted with college life. They didn’t know of each other’s existence until one day, Willson caught a glimpse of Rude at the campus cafeteria. From that moment, he couldn’t look away. Little did he know, but they were about to embark on the romance of a lifetime.

Of Course, It Was Love At First Sight

Wikimedia Commons
Wikimedia Commons

Prentiss Willson and Janice Rude’s first encounter happened in that same cafeteria. It was a chance meeting in 1962. Rude was at the cafeteria working her shift when Willson dropped in to grab a bite to eat.

Neither knew that the other would be there, but the moment that they locked eyes, something clicked. That something would turn out to be love at first sight. Unfortunately, both Rude and Willson were shy at the time so they didn’t even say a word to each other! They couldn’t even look at each other without blushing.

Janice Rude Was Taught A Very Important Lesson

LifeBuzz
LifeBuzz

Before we get into their romance, let’s backtrack a bit. Prior to enrolling at Occidental College, Janice Rude was a humble girl born and raised in Reno, Nevada. At an early age, Rude’s father taught her that she must work hard in order to be successful in life.

Since Rude deeply respected her father, that was an important lesson that she carried with her into her adulthood. Though her parents never pushed her to go to college, they supported her when she made the decision. For her, being successful meant obtaining a college degree.

Prentiss Willson’s Future Was All Laid Out

Pinterest
Pinterest

Prentice Willson came from the other side of the tracks. Willson was brought up in a family that was well off, so suffice it to say that he was set on a certain path in life. When he first got to Occidental College, Willson joined the Kappa Sigma fraternity as part of his plans for a bright future.

Willson’s well-to-do parents had very high expectations for their son. He was enrolled as a law student and quickly became the president of his fraternity. It seemed his future was all laid out – that is, until he laid eyes on Rude.

Willson Starts Building His Reputation

LifeBuzz
LifeBuzz

But before Rude entered the picture, Prentiss Willson was already making a name for himself at Occidental College. When black student Gene Grigsby wanted to join Kappa Sigma, the national fraternity union refused Grigsby’s pledge on the sold basis of his skin color.

Seeing the injustice of this, Willson – as president – took the frat out of the national fraternity union and made it an independent chapter so that Grigsby could join. Willson’s freshman year was already monumental in that he became president, but now he was making waves at his school.

Willson Woke Up Early Just To See Rude At Work

Denver Post via Getty Images
Denver Post via Getty Images

Meanwhile, Janice Rude was hard at work. Coming from a humble background, her father provided some financial support for her college tuition but it wasn’t enough. To help pay for all of it, Rude took an on-campus job and started working shifts at the cafeteria.

It was a job that required Rude to come to school quite early in the morning. By this time, Rude and Willson had seen each other. When he realized how early she would go into work, Willson started waking up extra early in order to be the first one in line at the cafeteria.

Their Crushes Blossomed Into Something More

Pinterest
Pinterest

Eventually, Rude and Willson would get over their shyness. Soon, their demure glances had evolved into small talk, and even that eventually progressed into full-blown conversations. Willson – who remembers the encounters as “love at first sight” – would wake up early every day to see Rude.

“I believe we were simply meant to be. I even remember the first time I laid eyes on Janice,” Willson would later reminisce to the press. Their morning encounters became a routine and on days where Willson didn’t show up, Rude would start to grow concerned.

They Looked Forward To Seeing Each Other Every Morning

Pinterest
Pinterest

Willson’s crush became so intense that he’d routinely head to the campus cafeteria “every day, at 6:00 am, because I just wanted to see her and have our little early morning exchange,” he would later recall.

Little did he know in those days that Rude looked forward to those encounters as well. Every morning as she got ready for her cafeteria shift, she would secretly hope that Willson would be in her line. Her favorite station to work at was the cereal bar, because she was sure to run into Willson there.

Rude Gave Willson Motivation

LifeBuzz
LifeBuzz

Though Willson was a freshman, he was settling into college life with ease. As a law student and fraternity president, he was already doing much more than the average college freshman. He even avoided the Freshman 15 by going on morning runs!

What gave him the motivation for these early runs was the hope of seeing Rude later that morning. It was usually after his runs that he’d go to the cafeteria to have breakfast and of course, see his crush. Surprisingly, this had gone on for weeks but neither of them even knew each other’s names!

The Freshman Didn’t Think He Had A Chance With A Sophomore

Denver Post via Getty Images
Denver Post via Getty Images

As a freshman, Willson was already somewhat of the “Big Man” around campus. But that didn’t mean he was entirely confident he could score the girl. In fact, he didn’t think he stood a chance with Rude!

“I actually didn’t think I had a chance with her. She was a year ahead of me and just so beautiful,” he would later recall. Little did this freshman know, that his crush was feeling the same way. Their daily morning encounters were making Rude fall for Willson just the same, even if the meetings were just for a few minutes.

It Took Almost A Month For Them To Learn Each Other’s Names

LifeBuzz
LifeBuzz

After three and a half weeks of wistful glances and casual flirting, Prentiss Willson finally learned his crush’s name: Janice Rude. Willson would never forget that name for the rest of his life and hoped that she would learn his name too.

Rude actually learned his name already, when she saw the story in the news of how Willson helped Grigsby pledge into his fraternity. The publicity surrounding Willson’s revolutionary act only made Rude fall for him even more. The crush grew so strong that by Thanksgiving break, Rude would do something completely crazy!

The Thanksgiving Dinner That Ended In Disappointment

Wikimedia Commons
Wikimedia Commons

Thanksgiving is often students’ first break from classes out of the school year. Occidental College hosts a pre-Thanksgiving dinner for all its students as a way for them to get to know each other better before they leave for the break.

Janice Rude was one student who was quite excited for this campus event. She was particularly looking forward to this dinner so that she could get to know Prentiss Willson. She arrived at the campus cafeteria for her shift during the dinner only that time, something was amiss. Prentiss Willson never showed up.

She Went To Great Lengths To Find Out Where He Was

Denver Post via Getty Images
Denver Post via Getty Images

Janice Rude was so struck by Willson’s absence that she needed to find out where he was or if something had happened to him. Luckily, she ran into one of his friends, who told her that he had left campus early to go home and be with his family.

This is when she went to great lengths just to see her crush. Determined, she found out where Willson lived. With his address in hand, she wondered what she should do with it. Should she try to go see him? Or should she just wait and see him after break was over?

She Decided To Go For It

Reddit
Reddit

For Janice Rude, the answer was clear. She had fallen for Willson, which is why in the end she decided to go see him. Willson lived 160 miles away from campus in Santa Maria, California. Rude got into her car and drove there on a whim.

For her, the distance was no issue and the three hours it took her to get to Willson’s house breezed by. But by the time she arrived in Santa Maria and rolled up to the Willson residence, the weight of what she had just done set in.

She Decided To Knock On The Door Anyway

Pinterest
Pinterest

Janice Rude froze at Prentiss Willson’s doorstep. She realized she was completely nuts for driving all that way to see someone she only had passing conversations with in the cafeteria. She hadn’t even called him to let him know she was coming!

You’d think having that much doubt would just prompt her to walk away at that point. But Rude wasn’t going to have driven all that way for nothing! She decided to just knock on the door and see what happened. When it opened, her heart nearly stopped at who she had seen!

Rude Met The Entire Willson Family

Nigel Dobinson/Getty Images
Nigel Dobinson/Getty Images

When Janice Rude knocked on the door of the Willson residence, none other than Prentiss himself answered the door. Rude’s heart skipped a beat and Willson was shocked. Ultimately, however, he was pleased that she came all that way to see him.

In fact, he says that he was thinking about her when she happened to knock on his door! What would have been an awkward encounter turned out to be a delight as Willson’s parents even invited Rude to join them for Thanksgiving dinner. Everything was working out for the crushes, but it wouldn’t last long.

Prentiss Willson’s Family Really Liked Janice Rude

dkn.tv
dkn.tv

Thankfully, Willson’s parents were just as taken with Rude as he was. Willson’s mother in particular felt an instant connection with the young woman, which was a huge relief to both of them.

Rude’s bold move had worked in her favor. After thanking the Willsons for a lovely dinner, Rude knew not to overstay her welcome and drove the three hours back to campus. A few days later, Willson would return too, but neither of them knew that Thanksgiving night had been a turning point in their blossoming romance. Soon, things were about to change.

Rude And Willson Were Young And In Love

Rumor Daily
Rumor Daily

When Rude and Willson returned to campus following Thanksgiving, everything changed. Their crushes had developed into a full-blown relationship. Those weeks of chatting in the cafeteria for a few minutes had immediately blossomed into a courtship.

The new couple was inseparable and spent all of their free time together. Nothing could come between them. Everyone on campus knew they were together. Whenever people saw Rude and Willson together on campus, the couple was always smiling at each other. The lovebirds felt as if they were meant to be together, which led them to do something crazy.

Prentiss Willson Decided To Propose To Janice Rude

H. Armstrong Roberts/Retrofile/Getty Images
H. Armstrong Roberts/Retrofile/Getty Images

Janice Rude and Prentiss Willson were so in love that one day, Willson decided to follow his heart, take the leap, and propose to Rude. The moment Willson got down on one knee, Rude knew she would say yes.

It’s crazy what you would do when you’re young and in love. After all, they had only known each other for a few short months before deciding to get married. Much of that short period of time was spent merely staring at each other and it had taken weeks before they started talking to each other and even learned each other’s names.

They Announced The Engagement In The Paper

LifeBuzz
LifeBuzz

Prentiss and Rude’s engagement was so exciting that it was even announced in the local paper. They couldn’t have been happier to be engaged, despite the fact that they only knew each other for a few months before taking the plunge.

The more time they spent together, the more they got to know each other. And the more they learned about each other, the more they fell in love. It seemed that nothing could stand in the way of their young love — that is, until the following January when Rude’s father found out and felt the need to get involved.

Rude’s Father Gave Her An Ultimatum

Mr. Rude wasn’t the least bit pleased to discover that his daughter Janice had decided to get engaged. He thought that she was too young and that this was not a wise move, especially while she was in the middle of working toward her degree.

He gave Janice an ultimatum: she would either have to break up with Willson or he would stop helping her pay for her college tuition. Janice’s fate was now in her own hands. She was being forced to choose between the two things in her life that she loved the most.

Rude Was Faced With Some Major Decisions

Wikimedia Commons
Wikimedia Commons

Janice Rude was completely flabbergasted by her father’s reaction to her engagement. She couldn’t afford to go to college on her own, but she had finally found true love. For a while, Rude didn’t know what she should do.

Even more awkward, the engagement was already announced in the local paper, so everyone knew. Calling it off would be a social embarrassment. Rude looked at the announcement again and studied the last words: “no date has been set for the wedding.” It seemed like a warning at the time, but it was also a sign.

Rude Didn’t Know If She Should Follow Her Dreams Or Follow Her Heart

Mondadori Portfolio via Getty Images
Mondadori Portfolio via Getty Images

Rude and Willson were heartbroken by her father’s imposition. For Rude, her education was incredibly important to her — especially since her father had taught her to work hard to be successful. It wasn’t like she was just going to give that up.

At the same time, however, she knew she was madly in love with Willson. Anyone who experienced that feeling knows that that isn’t just something you can give up. It changes you for the rest of your life. This made the decision even harder, but suddenly, Rude’s mother intervened with a solution.

Her Mother’s Help Wasn’t Enough

The Denver Post via Getty Images
The Denver Post via Getty Images

Rude’s mother decided to take out a second mortgage on the family home in order to help supplement her daughter’s college expenses. This was all done with the hope that her daughter could follow her heart and be with Willson.

Sadly, Rude’s mother’s efforts were fruitless and it wasn’t enough. She was again faced with the decision to follow her dreams or follow her heart. Rude at least had enough sense in her to know that the wise decision was to follow her dreams. As much as it hurt, she called off the engagement and broke up with Willson.

Willson Didn’t Understand Rude’s Dilemma

Susan Schiff Faludi/Three Lions/Getty Images
Susan Schiff Faludi/Three Lions/Getty Images

Janice Rude later recalled, “My father forced us apart the following January by refusing to pay my tuition if I didn’t ‘stop seeing that boy.’ 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.”

Willson’s inability to empathize with Rude was the final nail in the coffin. Rude decided to complete her degree and leave Willson behind. But she would never forget him.

Their Lives Grew Apart

22daily
22daily

After breaking up, Rude and Willson’s lives drifted further apart. After getting her biology degree, Rude went on to run the family business. The Rude family operated a diving board company. Their success was hallmarked by Rude’s induction into the USA Diving Association Hall of Fame in Seattle.

For Willson’s part, after leaving Occidental College, he moved on to Harvard Law School. Becoming a tax attorney, he moved back to the west coast and settled in the Bay Area. They both had accomplished their career goals. Little did they know, but fate would bring them back together.

They Both Moved On With Their Lives

hooplaha
hooplaha

Following the breakup, Rude and Willson would still run into each other on campus, but they acted as friends. Their whirlwind engagement was buried deep in the past. After leaving Occidental College, their lives grew even further apart.

Once they accomplished their career goals, they even went on to marry other people. Forty-seven years later, both of them were divorced yet their paths had never crossed since college. But one day after tragedy struck in both of their lives, they’d make shocking discoveries that would cause their worlds to intertwine once again.

Their Mothers Had Kept The Engagement Announcement

Occidental College
Occidental College

Both Rude’s and Willson’s mothers died within a few short months of each other. They both had to sort through their mothers’ belongings and found something that caused all the memories to come back.

Rude and Willson discovered that each of their mothers had kept the couple’s engagement announcement from all those years ago. Rude’s mother kept it laminated in her purse! Rude and Willson hadn’t even thought of each other much since they moved on, but this discovery brought it all back. “The mothers got it. The mothers simply knew, and I think we also knew,” they’d recall.

They Decided To See Each Other Again

thefunnybeaver.com
thefunnybeaver.com

Being reminded of that special time in their lives, Willson decided to reach out to Rude. She agreed to meet him in San Francisco, at a restaurant called Cliff House. June 20, 2010, was the date they reunited.

From the moment she saw Willson for the first time in 47 years, Rude knew that there was still something there. Willson felt the spark too and they pretty much just picked up from where they’d left off. They began dating again for six months before getting engaged for a second time!

They Got Married Where It All Started

thefunnybeaver.com
thefunnybeaver.com

This time, there was a date set for the wedding. Janice Rude and Prentiss Willson wasted no time this go-around and got married on August 19, 2012. Their relationship had come full circle, as they decided to get married at the Occidental College campus surrounded by family, friends, and their former classmates.

“We lament every day that we missed being together. That’s about 17,500 days – but who’s counting?” Rude said in an interview. If there’s anything this story will teach you, it’s that true love always finds a way. It took almost 50 years, but Rude and Willson found their way back together.