59 years later, lives cross...with a vow

“We met in 1949, and I always had a crush on her, “ admits Rosset, 77. “But we were really just friends; we never dated. The only real interface we had was in junior high and at a few high school dances.”

The couple took a circuitous route to the altar. After graduating from high school together in 1953, Rosset joined the army, and Fennell went off to college. He married, raised three children, wound up in Ohio and became a widower after 51 years with his first wife. Fennell, now 75,  also got married, had three children, went through a divorce and has spent 50 years in Atlanta.

“We never kept up with each other,” said Rosset. “The only time we ever communicated was when I was curious to know if she was going to our high school reunion back in 1993. She never went, but I did. And we never really communicated after that.”

In December 2010, after his wife passed away, Rosset decided to go online and track Fennell down.

“I wasn’t in the best of physical or emotional health, and I wanted to see what state her life was in,” he said. “As soon as I found her, I sent a little note to see if she’d respond.”

Fennell did, and thought it would be fun to get together.

“We talked for hours on the phone and email,” she said. “When he finally visited in April, I felt like I knew him very well as an adult, not just as a childhood friend. But I’d been single for 27 years; I was very happy and had no intention of getting married again.”

Rosset set out to change her mind. He began sending sprays of red roses on a regular basis until she stopped counting at 100. On their first meeting, he took her to dinner and made his intentions known.

“I was told to back off -- she was not interested in marriage,” said Rosset with a laugh.

But after repeated, persuasive visits, Rosset changed his sweetheart’s mind. He began moving his belongings to Atlanta last December, and on Jan. 28, the two were wed at their retirement home, Park Springs in Stone Mountain. Among the guests were a friend who went to high school with the couple and members of their large families: He has 13 grandchildren and five great-grandchildren; she has seven grandchildren.

They’re now settling into their life at Park Springs, where they’re big board and card game players, members of a bowling team and avid walkers.

“It’s amazing the things we do have in common,” he said.

Looking back, the two are now surprised that they didn’t meet up sooner.

“When we compared notes for the last 50- some years, we realized our paths almost crossed several times,” said Rosset. “But they never did -- until now.”

"Milestones" covers significant events and times in the lives of metro Atlantans. Big or small, well-known or not -- tell us of a Milestone we should write about. Send information to hm_cauley@yahoo.com; call 404-514-6162; or mail to Milestones, c/o Jamila Robinson, 223 Perimeter Center Parkway N.E., Atlanta, GA 30346.

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