Love isn’t easy. Too often, family and career ambitions get in the way of budding relationships, and no couple is guaranteed a happy ending. Many lovebirds have no choice but to go their separate ways and wonder for the rest of their lives what might have been.
After unfortunate circumstances tore these college sweethearts apart, they accepted their fates and moved on. Decades later, however, one incredible coincidence brought the past roaring back. Was it some kind of sign, or just a random occurrence?
If you spotted these two lovebirds back in the 1960s, it would have been safe to assume they were ready to spend the rest of their lives together. In fact, there was nothing they wanted more. But things weren’t so simple.
Janice Rude came from a working class family in Reno, Nevada. Her father encouraged her to seek a better life than the one he had, and so Janice set off to earn a degree in biology. Her father agreed to help her pay her tuition.
Janice enrolled in Occidental College in the early 1960s. By her sophomore year, she was doing well in her classes and figured she had a handle on university life. But one turn of events changed it all: she fell in love.
Though he was only a freshman, Prentiss Wilson made an immediate splash on campus. He won the presidency of the Kappa Sigma fraternity and rebelled against its national brotherhood when they refused to admit a black student. This bold stand made Prentiss hard to forget, notwithstanding the fact he was charming and handsome.
For Janice, he looked like her knight in shining armor. She worked in the school cafeteria to help pay for her education, and Prentiss made a point of chatting with her every day. Both students eagerly hoped to bump into each other on campus, though they hadn’t learned each others’ names yet.
Prentiss made sure he was among the first students to enter the cafeteria every meal, just so he would have extra time to talk with Janice. After a few weeks of flirtation, he worked up the courage to ask what her name was. He never forgot it.
While these brief conversations continued for months, the relationship didn’t evolve beyond that. Both Janice and Prentiss were clearly enamored with one another, but neither felt brave enough to suggest an actual date.
Finally, Janice decided to take action. After learning that Prentiss went home to spend Thanksgiving with his family, she hopped in her car and drove 160 miles to his home. She knocked on his door but was at a total loss for words when Prentiss answered.
But Janice didn’t need to say a word. Prentiss was over the moon that his cafeteria crush suddenly showed up at his front door. He invited her inside, where Janice met his parents and even shared their Thanksgiving meal.
After that fateful holiday, Janice and Prentiss were inseparable. As their love flourished, the two students began making plans for a future. It seemed perfectly natural — why wouldn’t they be together forever?
Then Prentiss made the big leap. He proposed, and Janice said yes! They were never more in love than at this very moment. Little did they realize, however, that not everyone approved of their imminent marriage.
Janice’s father had no interest in seeing his daughter get married so young and throw away her future. He gave her an ultimatum: either leave Prentiss, or she would stop receiving tuition — and likely never graduate.
Earning a diploma meant everything to Janice. Tearfully, she broke off her engagement to keep her family ties and professional hopes intact. She and Prentiss were both, of course, devastated.
The ex-fiances went their separate ways, though they never forgot each other. Prentiss became a tax attorney in San Francisco, while Janice ran a successful diving board company in Seattle. Both of them married other people, though the unions later ended in divorce.
Nearly five decades later, Janice’s mother passed away. As she was going through her mom’s personal effects, Janice found something totally unexpected in a purse: a newspaper clipping announcing the Rude-Willson engagement. If her mother carried it after all these years, Janice realized, her romance with Prentiss must have really meant something.
History in Orbit
The tricky part was that Janice barely made any contact with Prentiss in the years following graduation. Now, she couldn’t get him out of her head. Was she crazy to still be thinking about her old flame after almost 50 years?
Through the grapevine, Janice learned that Prentiss was essentially in the same boat she was in. Not only had his mother recently passed away, but he, too, was divorced. It seemed like fate. Hoping for a miracle, Janice gave him a call.
Just like when Janice showed up on Prentiss’ doorstep on Thanksgiving, she was reaching out to him out of the blue. As luck would have it, he was once again elated to find Janice checking in on him. And Prentiss had one more remarkable coincidence to share.
His mother also carried around a newspaper clipping about their engagement during all those years apart! It seemed like a sign. Within two months, these star-crossed lovers were engaged to be married for the second time.
This go-around, however, nobody could stand in Prentiss and Janice’s way. They finally married each other in 2012 on Occidental College’s campus, surrounded by old friends and classmates.
The couple regrets they had to spend so much time away from one another, but they’re now more focused on what’s ahead. These days, Janice and Prentiss are always driving off to some new adventure, and no road is off-limits. The present is always the most important moment, and they intend to savor each new memory they make together.