They say true love stands the test of time. And for Emilie Danielson, 70, and Terry Britton, 69, that has certainly proven true.
On Nov. 11, 50 years after they originally met as college freshmen attending Chapman University in Orange, Calif., the blushing bride and her now very grateful groom finally had the opportunity to say their “I do’s” to one another.
The couple first began dating in 1960 and admittedly fell fast and hard for each other.
“We would walk down to this tiny little church down the road and make out like crazy in the back of the pew,” Danielson told ABCNews.com.
But over the years, although the passion was strong between them, they somehow lost touch and can’t even explain today how or why it happened.
“We do not know how we lost touch. That’s the weirdest thing,” Danielson said. “We dated for two years. The second year we decided to leave [Chapman] and go to junior college to save money for a year. And then something happened, but we don’t know what happened. We just don’t remember.”
Neither of them have any recollection of a specific fight that tore them apart, but Britton was at least able to explain part of the reason they lost touch. As most young men in the 1960s did, he went into the Vietnam War, serving a year in Vietnam and three more years after that in Berlin. At the time, Danielson didn’t even know he was overseas.
“We went on different paths because of life. That’s how life happens,” Britton explained. “Going to the war was quite an interruption, but I survived that.”
As time passed, Danielson went on to marry someone else, has since been widowed twice, and has three children and seven grandchildren. Britton, on the other hand, was never married.
“I think it’s because I had been spoiled by Emilie,” Britton joked.
Danielson and Britton may not have remained in contact with each other, but the ties between their families remained strong, and ultimately led their two paths to cross once more.
“The thread was always there because our parents had all gotten together in Oakland,” Britton said. “They loved me, her parents did. And wished we would get married at some point. And my parents always loved her and wished we would get married.
“She corresponded by Christmas cards with my mother for 50 years. My mom didn’t want her to even know that I was touring in the war.”
But unbeknownst to Britton, his mother had responded to one of Danielson’s Christmas cards with a letter explaining that her son had always wanted to be with Danielson. However, Danielson was married at the time and was obviously not going to jeopardize that relationship. Nonetheless, she always held those words close.
As more time elapsed, Britton’s parents eventually passed away, and he temporarily moved to Arkansas to tend to their belongings and sort out their affairs.
“I didn’t know his parents had died so I kept sending Christmas cards to their home in Arkansas,” Danielson said. “I sent my usual picture of the family, but I didn’t think too much about it when I didn’t get one back.”
But as fate would have it, Britton was the one that received the Christmas card revealing a picture of Danielson’s face. It was the first time he had laid eyes on her since college.
“Terry received it instead because he had to move to his parent’s house to help in Arkansas. He had to live there and inherited the home and had to straighten out business,” Danielson said. “He received the letter I thought was going to his parents. So he sent me a letter back to my address saying ‘Oh my goodness. My parents are gone, but I’d love to talk to you.’”
They finally gave each other a call, enjoyed many conversations reminiscing on old times, and decided it was best not to deny their feelings any longer.
“He said ‘I want to marry you, but I think I should see you after 50 years,’” Danielson explained. “He said ‘I’m afraid I don’t look the same way I looked when I was 17.’ He wanted to move back to California and us to be married.”
Fast forward to June 10, 2012, when Danielson made the cross-country trip to Arkansas to visit Britton, and the rest as they say, is history.
“It’s a god thing. There was some divine intervention in there,” Danielson said. “He’s the only being that could have ever put this together after all these years. It’s beyond our wildest dreams. We had friends in the wedding that we knew in college. It was like a fairy tale come true.”
The lovebirds moved back to Santa Ana, Calif., and were married in Waverly Chapel on Sunday.
“We never forgot each other,” Britton quietly added.
The newlyweds left today for a brief honeymoon in Laguna Beach, Calif., before they have to hurry home to host Thanksgiving for Danielson’s children and grandchildren.