Former teenage sweethearts marry almost 70 years after first date

Time Inc.

It’s never too late when it comes to the one that got away!

Former teenage lovebirds Ed Sellers and Katie Smith tied the knot on July 16, some 70 years after they first dated.

The couple rekindled their romance about a year-and-a-half ago, after Sellers, 88, gave Smith, 89, a phone call. Well, a few phone calls, to be exact, because Smith wasn’t picking up the phone. “I finally reached her son,” Sellers tells PEOPLE, “and she couldn’t turn me down then!”

Before that call, the last time Smith and Sellers had seen each other was in the 1940s when Smith was 15 and Sellers was 14. They were neighbors in Kannapolis, North Carolina, then, and they dated for three years. But because Smith came from a strict, religious family, all of their dates were chaperoned and usually took place in her living room. The restrictions placed on their relationship eventually caused them to drift apart.

Smith and Sellers went on to wed other people and raised beautiful families. But, personal tragedy would eventually lead them back together: Smith’s husband, Cecil, died 17 years ago from cancer, and Sellers’ wife, Dot, died four years ago.

After he had some time to heal, Sellers reminisced about his old flame, and he drove 40 miles from his home in Kannapolis to Stanley, where Smith lives, to check for her number in the phone book.

“He went to come see me after all those years and when I saw him, it just felt natural,” Smith tells PEOPLE. “He was the same, just older!”

For the next year-and-a-half, Sellers drove from his home to Stanley twice a week to see Smith (he never spent the night there because they weren’t married, they both add). Eventually, Sellers proposed.

“He got down on his knees and brought me a diamond,” Smith says. “I reckon I must have said yes!”

The two tied the knot during a “rocking chair wedding” on July 16 at Community Pentecostal Center in Stanley.

Ed Sellers, 88, and Katie Smith, 89, who got married on July 16. Courtesy: Stefanie Helsel

Stefanie Helsel, Smith’s granddaughter, says that the support the couple has received from friends and family has made them feel comfortable about remarrying. They both loved their late spouses dearly and were apprehensive about dishonoring them in any way. At their wedding ceremony, Sellers and Smith had an honorarium table set up for their late spouses, Dot and Cecil. “They had great spouses in their first marriages, and to have another chance at finding some comfort and peace in another love is pretty special,” Helsel says.

Smith and Sellers agree that they like having found companionship in each other, so late in life.

“She’s a beautiful lady, real easy to get along with, and we’re very compatible with one another,” Sellers says, before adding, “and she doesn’t fuss at me much.”

According to Smith, Sellers is the same gentleman she knew from all those years before. “I like his humbleness and he never gets mad,” Smith says. “He treats me like a queen.”

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