There’s nothing better than a love story that spans the ages. Falling in love back then is very different to falling in love now, as Janice Rude and Prentiss Willson are the perfect testament to. This story will melt your heart!
Falling in love now
Falling in love now is a very different ball game to what it was like 50-years ago. Nowadays phones and internet make it easy to constantly be in touch. But it hasn’t always been this way, and this couple can prove it.
Falling in love back then
Falling in love 50-years ago meant you couldn’t text or call your partner. You spent as much time as you could with and arranged to go on dates at a specific time, on a specific day. You couldn’t text and arrange something! You were also dictated to a lot more back then, meaning if your parents disapproved there wasn’t a lot you could do. Something that the couple we’re going to talk about, know all too well.
Meet Janice Rude
Janice Rude was a sophomore at Occidental College where she was studying biology, in the early 1960s. Her father was a pretty street-smart tough guy who didn’t really think intellect was worth as much as common sense and hard work. To earn her keep, Janice also worked part-time in the dining room of her campus. With dark hair and smoldering eyes, she would have made most men double-take as she served their food. However, Janice was a modest woman.
Meet Prentiss Willson
At the same college was fraternity boy Prentiss Willson, part of Kappa Sigma. Willson was clearly a smart guy, studying law and with goals to truly make something of himself. Later on, in his college life, he became president of the chapter for a pretty incredible reason. Not only was Prentiss Willson smart, but he was good looking and definitely had his priorities straight. Any woman would have felt lucky to have spent time with this smart guy.
A man of principle
As mentioned, Prentiss Willson definitely had his priorities straight. When the national fraternity refused to let black student, Gene Grigsby, pledge for the Oxy Chamber, Prentiss was not happy. He supported the chapters decision to quit the national fraternity and became President of the Chapter. Prentiss knew of the injustices in the world, and he was happy to fight against them. He was truly a man of principle which made him even more attractive to those around him.
Love at first sight
Janice Rude and Prentiss Willson first saw each other in the campus canteen, all that time ago. They knew nothing about each other, but as they both recalled it was “love at first sight.” As Willson said in 2013, “I believe we were simply meant to be. I even remember the first time I laid eyes on Janice.” Little did they know that their fateful meeting would take them on a 50-year journey, with some serious ups and downs.
Early morning breakfasts
Prentiss Willson started going to the campus canteen every day at 6.00am in order to get his breakfast. Janice, if she had thought about it, may have started to wonder why she was seeing more and more of this handsome man. Like clockwork, Prentiss would make his way down to the canteen and get his breakfast. At that time of the morning, we doubt it was full of people either. It was the perfect excuse, and Janice was none the wiser.
Spending time together
Prentiss has since admitted that there was a reason he went down to get his breakfast early every morning. He said to the Huffington Post, “Every day, at 6.00am, because I just wanted to see her and have our little early morning exchange.” Janice and Prentiss were spending time together (practically every day in fact), and things were starting to blossom. Yet neither of them knew how the other person felt, and both were too afraid to ask.
Not a chance
“I actually didn’t think I had a chance with her. She was a year ahead of me and just so beautiful.” That’s what Prentiss Willson said about Janice and their early morning exchanges. Little did he know that Janice was starting to fall for him too. The pair continued seeing each other every single morning, at 6.00am on the dot, never knowing how the other person felt about them. Things were soon about to change, however.
College Thanksgiving Dinner
Every year, the Occidental College held a pre-Thanksgiving dinner for all the students. It was a good way to get them together and celebrate the holidays, before going their separate ways. However, this year, Janice noticed that her favorite person wasn’t there. Prentiss did not attend the dinner, so she sent a friend to go looking for him. It was clear she was heartbroken, soon realizing her feelings for her fellow student were serious. But where was he?
Making a long trip for love
The friend who tracked down Prentiss told Janice that he was 150-miles away. What was Janice going to do? She was desperate to spend time with him. She hopped in her car and made the 150-mile trip North to Prentiss’ family home to the Californian coastal city of Santa Maria. She had no idea what the reaction would be when she got there, or even what she would do, she just knew that she had to be there.
Joining the family for dinner
When Janice finally got to Santa Maria, she decided to just bite the bullet and march up to the family house. She knocked on the door, and a rather shocked Prentiss answered. Once the initial shock had worn off, Prentiss let her in to have Thanksgiving dinner with his family. It was finally clear to the both of them that they had feelings for each other. You don’t just drive 150-miles to see someone you ‘might like.’ This was something else.
An enchanted mother
As Janice Rude was having dinner with Prentiss and his family, they recall how enchanted Mrs. Willson was with the feisty young woman. The pair made an instant connection, and Prentiss has since said that his mother was captivated by Janice, “just like I was,” he told The Huffington Post. Janice had not just made Prentiss fall in love with her, but she’d made his entire family adore her too. You could tell this was going to go places.
Falling in love
And so the pair fell in love, just like everyone knew they would. They were virtually inseparable since that Thanksgiving dinner. They went back to the Occidental College to carry on their lives, but this time as the happiest couple in the world. Everyone who saw them realized that what they had was something truly special, and now the pair didn’t have to sneak in conversations over breakfast. Things moved so quickly that they soon decided on a very bold move…
The whirlwind romance got even stronger not long after their Thanksgiving Dinner when the pair decided to get engaged. The two had been seeing each other every single morning for what felt like forever, so it only made sense to them that they would get engaged. When you know you’re in love, you know. It didn’t matter that they were still in college or what anyone else thought, Prentiss Willson and Janice Rude were desperate to be together forever.
Announcement in the paper
And so an announcement was put in an Arcadia newspaper, back in December 1962. In the announcement, it stated that “No date has been set for the wedding.” After all, these two were still young and needed to work out how they would save up for a wedding when they were still in college. However, they did want everyone to know of their love, and that’s why it made sense to have the announcement in the newspaper.
A father’s disapproval
Unfortunately for Janice, her father did not approve. As mentioned before, Janice’s father was a street-ready guy, who didn’t feel like intellect was important in life. He threatened to cut all financial ties with Janice if she proceeded with the wedding. This would mean that Janice wouldn’t have been able to finish her degree in biology. The pair were heartbroken that her father would seemingly be so cruel. They were in love, why couldn’t he see that?
A mother’s advice
By January, just a month after their announcement, it seemed like the pair were being forced apart by Janice’s father. However, Prentiss’ mother had a bit of advice for the loved up couple. Elope! In an interview with Janice, she admits that she and Prentiss should have taken his mother’s advice at the time. However, there were other things worrying the couple. Little did they know that this was about to be the beginning of the end for their short-lived, fairytale romance.
Attracted to smarter women
The other issue that was bothering Janice was that she was worried he would get older and be attracted to smarter women. After all, he had proven himself an intelligent man that was the president of the chapter. She was worried that without her father paying for a college degree, he’d soon lose interest. Prentiss Willson couldn’t understand her angst and things started to go wrong for the pair who were from two completely different worlds.
Going their separate ways
It was heartbreaking for them both, but Janice and Prentiss decided to go their separate ways after that. Janice wanted to get her degree, to prove that she was intelligent too, and the father’s disapproval would have stopped her doing that. What seemed like the fairytale romance one can only dream about, had ended in a whirlwind engagement and an even quicker breakup. Absolutely heartbreaking. However, this wasn’t going to be the end of their story…
Moving on from each other
The pair moved on from each other, both going their separate ways. Prentiss Willson graduated from Harvard Law School and became a tax attorney, living and working in the Bay Area. Janice Rude graduated with a Biology degree and went on to run her family’s diving board business. She became so successful, and her company made so many contributions to the sport, that she was inducted into the USA Diving Association Hall of Fame in Seattle.
Janice and Prentiss had gone their separate ways, so started their own families as is often the case. They had to move on, so both were married (and divorced) several times over the next 47 years. Every now and then, their paths would cross as friends. However, they were always in a relationship and thought things had passed, so neither broached the subject of what once was. That was until one fateful discovery changed everything. Life was about to change for them both…
Losing their mothers
Both Prentiss and Janice were very close to their mothers, so were heartbroken when their mothers passed away. Strangely, within a couple of months of each other. Prentiss had once said of them, “The mothers got it. The mothers simply knew, and I think we also knew.” What happened next was quite possibly one of the most hauntingly beautiful ways for the two to meet once again. And proved that the mothers really did know that what the couple had was real.
Hidden newspaper clippings
When going through their mother’s things they both found the same thing… A newspaper clipping of the original engagement announcement. The mother’s had never met each other, never spoken, but they had both kept that special piece of paper. Janice Rude’s mom had actually kept a laminated copy in her wallet, which she had then carried around for over 35 years. It seems like both mothers had been desperate for Janice and Prentiss to be married, even after all this time.
Reaching out to each other
Upon these shocking discoveries, it made sense that the pair got back in contact. Janice said, “The mothers knew we should have been married,” and the joint findings rekindled some old memories in the pair. Prentiss was the first one to reach out and catch up, which is when they discovered they had both found the same newspaper clippings in their mothers’ possessions. What happened next is proof that love really never dies; it has no time limit.
Meeting for brunch
Janice accepted Prentiss’ invitation to meet for brunch, for a catch-up. If only just to honor their mothers and the finding of those newspaper clippings. On June 20, 2010, the two reunited at the Cliff House in San Francisco. Janice told her daughter she would meet Prentiss to see if the “spark was there” or whether it would be “goodbye forever.” It was their one last chance to see if something would ever come of their relationship.
Getting engaged again
The brunch went incredibly well, with all of the old feelings resurfacing. Prentiss told Janice, when she walked into brunch, “You’re wearing the same color slacks you wore to Thanksgiving in 1961,” and everything came flooding back. Six months after that last-ditch date, the pair became engaged. It may have been 49-years after their initial engagement, but that didn’t matter. The two knew they were crazy for leaving it so long in the first place. It was their time, finally.
Finally tying the knot
And so, Janice Rude became Janice Willson on August 19, 2012. Their ceremony was held at the Occidental College where they first met, on the Branco Patio at Oxy. Prentiss said, in an interview, “We lament every day that we missed being together. That’s about 17,500 days – but who’s counting?” Finally, 51-years after the couple first met, they had tied the knot. And there wasn’t a dry eye in the house as the pair said their vows.
Their wedding songs
What made their nuptials even more special was that their wedding program included lyrics from six songs, picked by the couple, to represent their 50-year journey. One of these was The Story by Brandi Carlile which goes, “So many stories of where I’ve been and how I got to you, but these stories don’t mean anything when you’ve got no one to tell them to. It’s true… I was made for you.” Pass us the tissues, pronto!
A 50-year-old love story
Janice Rude and Prentiss Willson finally became married in 2012, 51-years after they first caught each other’s eye in the canteen at Oxy. It’s an adorable love story and proves that real love truly does stand the test of time. The pair now has the rest of their lives, to spend together. They’ve moved to Yountville and will be living out their years, together, finally, after all these years. An absolutely magical love story that spans over 50 years! But…
Not the first
Janice Rude and Prentiss Willson certainly aren’t the first reunited lovers, to finally get their way and be together. There have been many stories over the years of similar romantic endeavors. And with the rise of the internet, long-lost lovers are finding it easier than ever to reconnect. Let’s take a look at some of the most beautiful stories of second chance romances over the years. Some of these will absolutely melt even the hardest of hearts.
Debby Klein and Jeff Stiel
These two first met in 1980, at college in Queens but had always just been friends. They both worked at Camp Hillel in Swan Lake together, and Jeff admitted he had a crush on her then. However, Debby was dating someone else, and the pair went their separate ways. Fast forward over 30-years, and the pair got married in 2014 after a couple of dates. Their invite featured a photo of them back in 1981. Adorable!
Gayle King and Frank Edwards
Back in 1978, Gayle and Frank met at a party at an apartment of their friend. They hit it off and dated for 7 years, however, Gayle was worried about her biological clock by her mid-30s. She gave Frank the ultimatum; commitment or the end? The relationship ended, and the two parted ways, with Frank staying single and Gayle marrying and having a daughter. After Gayle got divorced in 2011, the two rekindled and have been a couple ever since.
Diane Nerheim and Marvin Ugland
Diane and Marvin met at the University of North Dakota in 1964 and instantly hit it off. However, it fizzled out, and the pair never saw each other again. That’s until they met up at Diane’s mother’s funeral, where Marvin was escorting his own mother (the pair had always been friends). Marvin was 70 at the time and wanted to give things a shot, so put in all the legwork. The pair fell back in love and married in 2015.
Love has no time limit
This stories just go to prove that there is no time limit to love. Whether you have a long-lost high school sweetheart or someone you’ve only just broken up with, there’s nothing to say you won’t get a second chance at love – just like these couples did. You might just have to wait around 50 years for that reunion to happen, but if it’s meant to be, it’ll certainly be worth the wait. We promise.