Two star-crossed childhood sweethearts who were torn apart in their teens have finally tied the knot – 70 YEARS later.
Ed Sellers, 88, fell for Katie Smith, 89, aged 14 when she moved into the house next door to his in the early 1940s.
He asked her out with a handwritten note and they courted or three years but the relationship ended when Katie’s strict religious parents banned them from going on dates.
She moved to another town and they met new partners, both getting married in 1946 and living happy lives.
But despite having no contact for seven decades, they never forgot each other.
After their spouses passed away, the long-lost lovers reconnected and over the course of 18 months, slowly rekindled their romance.
On Sunday, retired truck driver Ed and former seamstress Katie – both of whom are great grandparents – tied the knot.
The elderly lovebirds said their vows while sitting in rocking chairs because they wouldn’t be able to stand long enough, surrounded by family and friends.
Katie’s granddaughter Stefanie Helsel, 35, said: “The only reason their relationship ended all those years ago was because her parents were extremely strict.
“Ed wanted to take her to the movies but it absolutely wasn’t allowed.
“They ended it because it couldn’t progress.
“When they came back together it was natural.
“There was never any awkwardness. My grandmother said there was never a moment where it felt like there was ever any gap in time.
“She said it really feels as though everything has fallen into place.
“It is wonderful that they have found each other again.”
Ed was married to wife Dot for 67 years and had two sons, while Katie was married to husband Cecil, a war vet, for 54 and had three children.
They say they were both “in love” – but tragically in 2000, Cecil died of cancer and four years ago, Dot passed away from Alzheimer’s.
It wasn’t until 2015 that grief-stricken Ed decided to track Katie down.
He learned from her brother that she lived an hour away from their childhood home of Kannapolis, NC in Stanley, NC – so drove there.
When he arrived he found a phone book and called Katie’s number in a bid to reconnect with her for the first time in seven decades – but she didn’t answer that day.
The hopeless romantic persisted and eventually Katie’s son picked up.
Mum-of-three Stefanie, a nurse, said: “He answered and said, ‘Do you know anyone called Ed Sellers?’
“My grandmother said, ‘The only Ed Sellers I know is from a long time ago and I haven’t heard from him in 70 years so I don’t know if it is him.’
“Ed said, ‘Tell her it’s me.’
“She agreed to talk to him and they talked for a while. He talked her into being with him and she agreed they would meet up.
“It started out as a real great friendship.”
For a year and a half, Ed would drive to see Katie twice a week – but he would never stay over.
Then, six months ago, Ed asked Katie if she’d marry him.
She initially said no, anxious not to dishonour her late husband – “the love of her life”, Stefanie said.
But Ed eventually won her over after they both agreed they were not trying to replace their previous partners – but had found a new love.
When she finally agreed, he got down on one knee and popped the question with a diamond ring.
Stefanie said: “She had to help him back up. He got stuck down there. He is 88 after all.”
The couple married on Sunday at Community Pentecostal Center in Stanley – the church Katie founded with her former husband.
They sat beside one another, rocking gently in wooden chairs while surrounded by 50 friends and relatives.
Stefanie added: “I have know Ed’s name forever. I have heard her talking about him when we spoke about our first loves.
“It is amazing to finally get to know him.
“The wedding day was wonderful.
“It is so cute. They are very much looking forward to being together.”