However, it did take time for things to happen. Coming from different upbringing and lifestyles, their relationship was almost prone to failure before it even started. Things weren’t the same back in the 60s as they are today. Janice was a sophomore while Prentiss was a freshman at Occidental College, a private and very expensive liberal arts institution located in L.A. She had a dream of becoming a biologist and he was always pushed to become a doctor or a lawyer. Janice was working at the school’s cafeteria in order to help pay for her tuition, and when Prentiss walked in one morning to get his daily breakfast, she knew there was something different about him.
When their eyes met, it was love at first sight, just like in the movies. While it took them some time to overcome their shyness, they eventually became very close. One day, however, things took a different turn and Janice knew she had to take things into her own hands in order for them to become even closer. Since that defining moment, it seemed like everything was on the rise and nothing could hurt their strong bond. When these two lovebirds have decided to make their love official and tie the knot, they had to face another bump in the road and eventually had to go their separate ways. All these years it was almost like they were living identical yet parallel lives. Little did they know that a crumpled piece of paper will put all the piece back together. Janice and Prentiss’ story is a story about love, lose and fate.
Occidentally in love
Prentiss Willson and Janice were one of those couples everyone was envious of. The two met in 1962 while in college. Janice was a sophomore and Prentiss was a freshman and they both attended Occidental College in L.A. They were deeply in love and it didn’t take them long to decide they want to spend the rest of their lives together. However, not long after they got engaged, they decided to go their separate ways and not to go through with the wedding. Little did they know that fifty years down the line they would reveal a shocking truth.
Janice got more than a degree
Janice was a small town girl who was born and raised in Reno, Nevada. Coming from a humble home, Janice recalls being brought up in a tough home with a father who kept on pushing her to work harder. However, she always appreciated how smart he was. Education was never on the top of Janice’s father’s list, yet he was supportive of his daughter’s will to go and pursue a college degree. That was when she decided to go to Occidental College and study biology. She also never thought that college would be where she would meet her biggest love.
They almost didn’t meet
The college these two love birds met in was Occidental College, a private institution which was built in the 19th century. The interesting thing about Occidental was that the board of the school had considered turning it to an all-male school, not once but twice. The first time it was brought to the table was in 1912 and the second time was in 1931. We bet Janice and Prentiss couldn’t be more grateful that this plan was never really executed, otherwise they would have never met.
A hard worker
Janice, who was brought up at a pretty modest home, knew she would have to get a job so she could help pay for her tuition. After all she attended a private school. She landed a job at the campus cafe where she would meet the college’s athletes and student body on a daily basis. The guys would pass by the cafeteria to get their morning coffee before practice. There was only one man, however, that Janice had her eyes on.
Moving to the second half of this duo, let’s just say that Prentiss was brought up in a different type of family. His was raised by intellectuals and his parents had the highest of expectations for their son. He was always expected to be the best student possible and later turn to a respected professional career like becoming a doctor or a lawyer. When Prentiss enrolled in Occidental College, Janice was already studying for a year at the institute. It was only natural for him to join the school’s fraternity. However, Kappa Sigma, the fraternity house he was part of, became involved in a big controversy.
More than meets the eye
Janice’s job at the cafeteria was something she actually loved because she knew what to expect each morning when she would come in. Janice would go in the back door, hang her bag and would dive into work. She would check her daily schedule and always hoped she would get the cereal station, she loved it the most. On one fateful morning, she rushed out to take orders and when she saw a young student waiting there for service, her heart skipped a beat.
Catching his breath
Prentiss also had his own daily routine. He was already pretty much settled in the first year of his studies and he adapted himself a nice routine of running every morning before classes started. Prentiss would then head to the school’s cafe and serve himself a good breakfast. He would usually be the first one to be served as it was very early in the morning. When he was standing at the counter waiting to be served, his eyes were locked on the waitress who hurried to the cashier.
Love at first sight
When Janice and Prentiss laid eyes on one another, they felt like everything around them literally paused. That moment was just like in the movies, it was love at first sight. She was so overwhelmed that it almost looked like she was radiant. When Willson looked at his waitress for the first time, he thought that he had never seen something so beautiful on his life. Janice might have been shy at that moment, but Prentiss wouldn’t let that stop him. He was hooked on her.
Stepping out of her comfort zone
Soon, Prentiss’s daily routine started to change according to Janice’s. He would wake up as early as 5 am just to be the first one there at the station Janice was working at. She couldn’t help but smile every time she glanced at him as he was picking his tray to get his bacon and eggs. Janice was still shy at that point and would blush every time their eyes met. However, as days went by, she grew out of her shell and was more comfortable with smiling back at the young man.
As the two were constantly exchanging gazes all the time, Willson knew that he would have to find the courage to talk to her at one point or another. Each time he would think he was brave enough and confident enough to approach Janice and start talking to her, he would freeze, especially after she would smile at him. One day, however, he found the courage to say ‘hi’. Janice softly replied ‘hi’ and she became as red as a beetroot.
In the name of
All this time, they didn’t even know each other’s names. After three weeks, Willson finally knew the girl’s name. When he found out it was Janice Rude, he couldn’t help but repeat it to himself over and over, making it very hard for him to concentrate in class. She also knew at that point that his name was Prentiss Willson. Janice knew that name was familiar and she remembered she heard it when the fraternity house, Kappa Sigma was leaving the national chapter so an African-American student would be allowed to pledge. Knowing his name, she was on cloud nine.
Out of his league
As time went by, Willson found out more and more about his object of affection. That beautiful canteen girl was always on his mind. He found out she was a sophomore. ‘I actually didn’t think I had a chance with her. She was a year ahead of me and just so beautiful.’ That didn’t stop him from making his daily visits: ‘every day, at 6:00 a.m., because I just wanted to see her and have our little morning exchange.’
He never showed up
One day, Janice noticed that Prentiss didn’t show up at the canteen like he did every single day. The two had already adapted their daily routine of meeting up and exchanging a few words at the cafeteria, so when he didn’t show up it was obvious something was wrong. It was a little before Thanksgiving break when many college students would leave to go home for the holidays. When he didn’t show up at the annual pre-Thanksgiving supper, Janice felt a sadness she never felt before.
A woman on a mission
As disappointed as she was to learn that Prentiss wasn’t present that night of the dinner, she made a bold decision. She decided she won’t wait for things to come her way. She found out that he had already left for the holidays to visit his parents, and she somehow got her hands on his home address. In another courageous move, Janice didn’t let her nerves get the best of her and she was able to follow through with her plan.
Taking a risk
She didn’t know what it was, but something was telling her to take a chance on love and just drive to Prentiss’s parents home. It was a long and anticipated drive, especially due to the fact that Willson had no idea she was on her way. She drove alone all the way to Santa Maria. It took her three hours to get to their house. Janice parked her car, pulled out and got to the front door and knocked. That was one journey she went on.
The life-changing knock
When Janice arrived at the Willsons’ house, Prentiss was siting in the living room just reading for his pleasure. The college boy had just come home the previous night and all he wanted was a nice home-made meal. He knew in his heart though, that he regretted not saying goodbye properly to the girl he was seeing every morning. Suddenly, he heard a knock on the door, when he opened the door he couldn’t believe his eyes.
Let love in
Almost regretting her decision, Janice almost froze when she heard someone walking towards the door as she knocked. When Prentiss opened the door he was shocked to see Janice standing at the front door, all he could get out of his mouth was a simple ‘hi’. He thought he was dreaming at first, seeing Janice just standing there. Prentiss pulled himself together and invited her in. Janice immediately felt at home and connected with Prentiss’s parents as if she knew them before.
Since that moment Janice walked in his childhood home, they were pretty much inseparable. She even joined the family’s Thanksgiving dinner. She knew she would have to go back to school soon, and that’s why they decided to spend each and every moment together. It was very much obvious that they were made for each other. They couldn’t help but smile at each other, all the time. They really were the sweetest couple you can imagine.
A hurricane romance
It was obvious that their romance was like a fairy tale. In fact, things moved so quickly that Prentiss made a huge move by asking Janice to be his wife. He recalls that he always knew she was the woman for him and that they were ‘simply meant to be.’ By that point, they had only been exclusive for just a couple of weeks, but he knew he didn’t want to go another day without her. Using the help of his buddies, Prentiss planned an unforgettable and romantic night.
He put a ring on it
Let’s just say that it didn’t take Janice very long to respond. Her answer was obviously ‘yes’. She was so madly, deeply in love with Prentiss from the get go that ‘no’ was not an option. The moment Prentiss put that stunning ring on Janic’s finger, a gold band sprinkled with diamonds, he couldn’t help but feel ecstatic and overjoyed. However, soon that feeling would turn around and everything they’d planned was about to change.
It’s NOT a date
The excited couple couldn’t wait to share the news with their friends and families. They soon came up with an engagement announcement that was planned to be posted in the paper. Prentiss and Janice were over the moon with the amount of love they got from the people around them. Janice was also very proud to show off her sparkler. However, with all the excitement in the air, people couldn’t help but notice that the announcement also read ‘no date has been set for the wedding.’
Janice and Prentiss didn’t think anything could ruin their excitement. Janice’s dad was not pleased with this union. He was a working-class man and he didn’t really find anything in common with Prentiss’s parents who were intellectuals. While the couple doesn’t really remember the exact reason for dad’s disapproval, they do recall him threatening he would stop paying the expensive school’s payments if she didn’t stop seeing Prentiss. Feeling distressed, Janice called the one person whom she knew could help her, her own mother.
It wasn’t enough
Her mother did everything she could to help her precious daughter out. She even took another mortgage for the family’s house just so Janice would be able to keep paying for her tuition. However, that wasn’t enough and Janice was facing a hard decision. Even thought she was an excellent student, she was scared that is she was to drop out just to get married, her future husband would respect her less and he would start looking at other girls.
An impossible decision
Although Janice was scared, Prentiss made sure she knew that her fears had no ground. He was going to love her and be there for her despite having a degree or not. His own mother even made a surprising suggestion and told them they should elope. The pressure of her father’s decision and her own personal anxieties started taking a toll on Janice. There were times Prentiss didn’t even understand his own partner. Janice was then facing the biggest decision yet: was she going to drop out to marry the love of her life or was she going to let him go.
Shocked and heartbroken, Prentiss recalls those defining moments: ‘We tried to figure things out but I guess we weren’t smart enough. We had to. We didn’t want to, but we had to.’ Janice was devastated, especially upon returning the ring she loved so much. Janice and Prentiss eventually split up, with a shattered heart. Time passed and Janice graduated. She took over the family’s business and didn’t become a biologist like she was supposed to.
Moving on from that big love was hard for Prentiss, but he managed to do so somehow. He picked himself up and focused on his studies. From Occidental College he went on to study at the prestigious Harvard Law School. With time, he became one of the most famous and respected tax lawyers in the area. He also eventually went on to marry someone else, but always knew a piece of his heart was missing. He couldn’t get Janice off his mind.
Walking down the same road
Janice also did quite well for herself. She was a successful businesswoman and was even inducted into the U.S Diving Association’s Hall of Fame at a certain point for her great contribution. Just like Prentiss, Janice went on to marry someone else. Surprisingly (or not), both of their marriages didn’t last. In a way, any other relationship was set to fail as they had already felt like they found their soulmates. All they had was a sweet memory of their beautiful love story.
Fate stepped in
In a an unfortunate turn of events, both Prentiss and Janice had lost their beloved mothers just a few months apart. The two hadn’t seen one another in almost over fifty years, but apparently fate was stronger than they thought and an unexplainable force pushed them to see each other again. While they were each grieving separately, a surprising and quite striking coincidence made them get back together after almost five decades apart.
A piece of their heart
While going through their late mom’s belongings and possessions after their passing, they both encountered a little piece of history. Prentiss found the piece of newspaper that was actually his and Janice’s engagement announcement from back in the day. Shockingly enough, Janice had too found the same paper which her mother kept all those years. Prentiss knew this was some sort of a sign and he decided he didn’t have a choice but reach out to his long-lost love. How would she react though?
It was engaging
When Prentiss finally found the courage to reach out to Janice, they decided to meet for brunch. When their eyes met again after all these years, it was as if nothing had changed. After almost five decades apart, they couldn’t not smile when they looked at each other. Willson recalls: ‘The mothers got it..The mothers simply knew, and I think we [he and Rude] also knew.’ Six months later they were engaged for the second time in their lives.
Something old, something new
Two years after their emotional reunion, Prentiss Willson and Janice Rude went back to where it all started and finally said their ‘I Do’s’. They even incorporated something from their past and as a tribute to their mothers who have passed, who in a way brought them back together. They used their old engagement announcement and incorporated it in the design of their new invites. The only thing that was changed was that this time there was a date set. Surrounded by old friends and family members, these two lovely people have promised to love each other forever. On his reunion with his lost love, Willson said: ‘Some things were just meant to be.’
The digital world’s response
The reaction the digital world had to this remarkable story was truly a sight. People love a good love story, even one that has gone through many twists and turns to end up where it needed to be. The story of Janice and Prentiss is one that proves to the world that destiny is real, love is real and that time means nothing when true love is involved.
Looking at the bright side
The two adults have also managed to age beautifully. Both are thankfully very healthy and have supportive and loving families. There are endless articles about the story these two have lived through. While one can be upset for this couple who could have spent their entire lives together instead of the 50 years that they were apart, we choose to look at the bright side of these two coming together when it was just right for them.
The AARP, also known as the American Association of Retired Persons, even published Janice and Prentiss’s story in one of their posts. They wrote, In 2012 they married at Occidental College. When their mothers, who’d never met, died within months of each other, the couple discovered that both moms had saved the original engagement announcement. “They got that we couldn’t find unconditional love with anyone else,” Prentiss says. “We lament every day that we missed being together. That’s about 17,500 days — but who’s counting?”
What Prentiss had to say
If you ask each one of them what they remember about one another, you will get a very detailed list of events. The two have a remarkable memory, especially for one another. Prentiss said, “I believe we were simply meant to be, I even remember the first time I laid eyes on Janice. Every day, at 6 a.m., because I just wanted to see her and have our little morning exchange.”
Whether you believe in fate or not, this story tests the boundaries. The fact that these two got together after 49 years apart due to the fact that their respective mothers, who passed away mere months of one another, kept the very same newspaper clipping of their original engagement announcement is just too strange to ignore. Perhaps we should all look again at this meant to be situation.
Social media coverage
The story of this adorable duo is all over social media and the internet in general. On Twitter, the story that was written about them by Huffington Post was trending with the title: “Janice Rude and Prentiss Willson: Long Lost Loves Reunite After 50 Years”. Janice’s father did not get to make the final decision on his daughter’s life and we couldn’t be happier about it for her.
Then and now
This photo of the two of them makes our heart swell with such joy. The love story of Janice Rude and Prentiss Willson has come full circle. While they will not have children together (that ship has sailed) they get to enjoy the rest of their lives together, with nothing separating them for a very long time to come.