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


most of us heard of high school sweethearts, but when it comes to preschool sweethearts it’s a bit hard to remember. But the case with Matt Grodsky and Laura Sheel is completely different. The two met in preschool when they were only three years old, and formed an incredible bond. They were attached really hard even Matt had to proclaim his love for Laura in front of an entire class. However, as they grew up and went to different schools, the distance cut their friendship for a while until their paths crossed again.

Matt and Laura Met at Preschool

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

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The first time when Matt noticed Laura on the playground, he 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 as they were just little kids.


Laura Thought Matt Was a Total Fathead

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Matt knew he wanted to be friends with Laura that’s why he followed her 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 the beginning, Laura thought he was a total fathead for following her around, but she realized just how funny and warm-hearted Matt really was. Since then, 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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For Matt and Laura, playing at preschool wasn’t enough — they wanted to hang out even more! During that time, the two best friends’ parents knew each other so the little ones started playing also on the weekends. They planned fun playdates and went to the movies with each other, with parent accompany of course. Matt would even grab Laura’s hand during the scary parts of the movies they watched.

The two pals were clearly inseparable. Regardless his age, Matt wanted everyone to know how he felt about Laura!

Matt Always Tried to Impress Laura

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It’s funny to think back to when we were kids and remember all the things we did just to impress our friends. Whether it was showing off our collection of Pokemon cards or swinging extra high on the swings, childhood is always much sweeter. Matt loved his best friend Laura and was always trying to impress her. One of his favourite ways to show off how cool he was was to recite lines from his favourite Disney movies like The Lion King.

Laura Taught Matt Lots of Things

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Matt was always trying so hard to impress Laura, while 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 properly.

These things might seem minor to us now, but when someone teaches you things like this as a kid, they become the most valuable memories in our lives.

Little Lovebirds

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

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

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Matt and Laura remained best friends throughout preschool while nobody took his declaration for her seriously. They kept setting up playdates away from school and everytime attended each other’s birthday parties.

This shows that their bond was obviously special. It truly seemed like Matt’s declaration wasn’t really absurd! But as preschool came to an end, the best friends were about to go through a big change — starting kindergarten.

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The day has come for Matt and Laura to start kindergarten. The two had graduated from preschool and were ready to begin a new chapter of their lives.

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

The Friends Went to Different Elementary Schools

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While they were expecting to be put in the same kindergarten class, Matt and Laura were shocked by not being even enrolled in the same school. Certainly, this wasn’t a decision made by their parents, but it was related to where they lived.

The inseparable friends were very upset when they realized they wouldn’t be able to see each other as much as the way they did before. Their parents didn’t seem to comprehend how close and attached they were either, however they made sure that the kids would still get to play together every weekend.

They Hung Out Every Now and Then

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While the parents tried their best to assure that their kids would meet to play on the weekends, however, that wasn’t enough as long as the two kids would meet only less than expected. Life would get busy, then Matt and Laura’s time together started to fade away steadily.

Still, the best little friends tried to hang out as much as they could. They took this sweet Christmas card photo with two of their other friends one year! Unluckily, as the two finished kindergarten and went on to next grades, they began seeing each other on much fewer occasions.

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As the years passed by, Matt and Laura almost saw each other. While they once played every day and even took Christmas photos together, now the old friends only kept in touch by exchanging Christmas cards in the mail.

While the two were missing each other, they were also busy with school, homework, family, and new friends. It was obvious that they were simply adapting to the motions of everyday’s life.

Distance Doesn’t Always Keep The Bond7

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They say distance makes the heart grow fonder, but this isn’t the case for Matt and Laura. After several years the two old friends no longer get in touch through Christmas cards. They were growing up and experiencing new challenges through their separate lives.

It often happens as we grow up and are constantly learning new things, making new friends, and having new experiences, it’s all too easy to forget about our past. It was very clear that Matt and Laura had had a sweet childhood friendship but after all, we all grow up and moved on.

The Friends Started Their First Year of High School

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Nearly a decade had passed, Matt and Laura were ready to begin high school. Same as before, they were enrolled in different schools. At this point, the old friends were thinking rarely about each other. Anyways, it had been almost 10 years since they were inseparable.

But one day, something unexpected happened. During the fall of her first year of high school, Laura was on her friend’s phone when she noticed a usual name appeared.


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Laura couldn’t believe seeing Matt’s name before her eyes and all of a sudden, the sweet childhood memories began flooding back! When she asked her friend how she knew Matt and clearly, the two had met in middle school. Laura was feeling that the world is way much smaller!

She told her friend about her and Matt’s preschool sweet bond. She decided it was better not to think much about it, but her friend had something else in mind…

Laura’s Friend Decides to React As Matchmaker

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Right after Laura finished telling her friend about the preschool romance story, her friend had decided to set up the unexpected meeting between Matt and Laura. When she thought about it she knew that it could be a good match.

When she told her the idea, Laura was hesitated at the beginning. During all these years, she knew nothing about Matt anymore, and there was no way things would be the same as before.

Matt Recieved Laura’s Number

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Laura was nervous at the idea of being set up with Matt. Not only that, but she wasn’t even ready for the idea of having a boyfriend at the time.

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.

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Right after Matt got Laura’s number, he texted her and a while enough, the two were chatting and agreed to meet. They planned a date and decided they would go to the movie together.

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

They Hit It Off!


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Despite Matt and Laura had been best friends in preschool, it was almost impossible to see them again together especially as teenagers. Their first date went off without hesitation and soon enough they were already a couple.

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.

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With their senior year in full swing and college on the horizon, the couple had to make a tough decision. 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 their Hearts Grow Fonder This Time

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Eventually, Matt and Laura decided they would go away to their respective colleges but would do their best 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 make their relation succeed.

They Were Ready for the Challenge


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The couple knew being so far apart would be a challenge, but they cared so much for each other that they were willing to do everything they could to make it work. They made sure to fully immerse themselves in college life, but also committed to keep their relationship together in it best shape.

This wasn’t easy at all, 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.

College Set Them Apart for Nearly Six Months

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Inspite of the fact that they had social media and Facetime to keep up with one another, they still had long period of time when they couldn’t see each other personally. The longest stretch they had between visits was about six months.

While they were in college, they were 100% sure that they truly wanted to be together. Whlie the distance between them was representing a challenge for both of them — especially Matt. He knew he had to react about it.

Senior Year


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A while enough, it was their 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 unique way. At the time they were both home during the summer, he had an idea for a special date.

Since they both had been working so hard for college, he wanted to surprise Laura with a date that would be relaxing and romantic. He planned a picnic at their preschool.

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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 expected his surprise.

Laura Was So Touched by the Thoughtful Gesture

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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 for the first time nearly 20 years ago.

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

Matt Was Noticeably Nervous

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Before the couple arrived at the preschool Laura noticed that Matt seemed to be nervous. He was constantly squirming 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 felt so lucky and special to have Matt around her life.

Will You Marry Me?

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Laura was already so surprised that Matt had planned this picnic at their old preschool. But she was about to get shocked when suddenly, Matt got down on one knee and asked his girl to marry him.

Laura couldn’t believe what she was seeing. “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!”


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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.


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Although They were still in college, Matt decided he didn’t want to wait until they both graduated. He had no doubts that 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

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Matt and Laura’s wedding happened 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.”

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Matt and Laura’s wedding was obviously a special day, 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 ever have.

“Our favourite 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!

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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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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

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In the post that she shared, Matt and Laura explain their whirlwind romance that started when they were just three years old. “I was enamoured 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 the response to be quite as great as it was.

Hundreds of Thousands of People Read Their Story


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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?

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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.


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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


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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

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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

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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 favourite thing about Matt is his humour, he always makes me happy and he is the most driven person I know,” Laura says. “He is always moving forward.” Matt added “My favourite 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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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 about 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

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

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

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

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

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

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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

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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


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

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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

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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

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

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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


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


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

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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

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

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.



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