It seems as though hearing stories of high school sweethearts marrying are few and far between, but what we have to assume is even more rare, is that those couples are still going strong, 70 years later.
That’s the case with Florence Henry and Fred Paul, but it’s not what you might think.
High school sweethearts
The couple first met as teenagers 68 years ago. At that time, in a small Canadian town, they spent every moment together that they could.
“She was my first love -- my first girlfriend and my first true love,” Paul, now 84, told CNN.
At 18, Paul moved away for work. Harvey was 15 then. When Paul returned to their hometown, Harvey had moved.
The two both went on to marry other people and have families.
Harvey and her late husband, Len, were married for 57 years and had five children together, but her husband died of cancer in 2017.
Paul and his wife, Helen, were married nearly 60 years and had two children together, but she died in 2019 after living with multiple health issues that included dementia.After Paul’s wife died, Harvey heard the news and called him to share her experience and let him know that things would slowly get better.
And they did.
The conversations between the two went from once a week to each day for hours at a time.
“We had really reconnected, even though we hadn’t seen each other in all those years,” Harvey said. “I knew this was it.”
The in-person reunion
On Paul’s birthday, months later in July, he learned Harvey was on her way to Toronto to surprise him.
“When I found out she was in town and was coming to me, it was 10:30 at night,” Paul said. “I ran out of bed and got dressed and wrote ‘Welcome Florence’ in chalk on the driveway, and when she arrived, I walked to the car, gave her a hug and a kiss on the cheek and I held her hand, and I knew right away that she had taken my heart.”
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The couple said three days after seeing each other in person again, they were ready to get married. They knew they wanted to be together for the rest of their lives.
So they made it official.
On Aug. 8, 2020, in front of a small group of close friends and family, the two said “I do.”
The officiant, Paul Ivany, said it was one of the most moving ceremonies he’d ever participated in.
“They both had been married for years and had created families and memories and wonderful lives. They both had truly fulfilled their vows to their first spouse: ‘In sickness and in health. In joy and in sorrow. To love and to cherish. As long as we both shall live,’” Ivany told CNN. “Now, with all the wisdom they had gathered up in life, through all of life’s joys and sorrows, life’s ups and downs, they were ready to say those vows again. Not with the naive emotionalism of young love, but out of the depths of lived experience. They were willing to say those vows again. And mean them, again. It was so powerful.”
During the ceremony, Harvey told Paul, “You were the first young man to walk me home in my teens. I guess you’ll be the last man to walk me home.”
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