Robert "Bob" Brown, who currently lives in Decatur, and Edith "Edie" (Puff) Northup of Fort Wayne, met and fell in love 50 years ago, but they were just married last Saturday, September 15, in an outdoor ceremony at the Berne American Legion post.
The couple started dating after they met at work in 1961 when he was 21 and she was 19. They embarked on a whirlwind romance and planned on getting married until Northup's father convinced her otherwise. They were each other's first love.
"We were too serious and my father didn't like it," said Northup. "He was concerned about Bob having disabilities."
On June 9, 1960, at the age of 19, Brown came into contact with 7,200 volts of electricity while working construction. He lost both of his hands and both of his feet in the accident and has worn prosthetic limbs since then.
Brown said to Northup recently, "If I were in your dad's shoes, I would have done the same thing." He added that he understands her father's concern that he might not have been able to provide for her. "I didn't have a very good job yet."
Northup, who didn't know Brown before his accident, said, "My father put so much pressure on me that I ended up breaking up with him and we went our separate ways." She added, "I was so depressed that I went out and found another job." A heartbroken Brown did the same.
Northup took a job at Magnavox, now Raytheon, in Fort Wayne, where she is still employed after 48 years. Brown had a few different jobs, including one as an inspector of new construction for the State of Indiana. He also worked for Indiana Rehabilitation Services for 28 years before retiring.
Over the years, they both married and lived happy, fulfilling lives. Northup has a son and Brown has a stepson and a stepdaughter.
Brown and Northup accidentally ran into each other from time to time — "Four times in 50 years," said Brown. Although surprised at the meeting each time, they exchanged only pleasantries and remained respectful of the other's personal situation. The couple's most recent meeting, however, was a much different story.
Brown recalled one of his close friends inviting him to a car show in Fort Wayne in the fall of 2011. Awhile after they arrived, Brown came across Northup's brother, who was selling car parts at the show.
"Over the years I've wondered about her because she was my first love. So, I got to asking him about her — 'What's she doing? How many kids/grandkids does she have?'" Her brother responded by saying that he could ask her personally because she was at the show, just a few steps away, sitting under an oak tree.
Brown, a widower, approached his former sweetheart, also single, and the pair sat under the tree; they chatted and reminisced about old times. Brown said he knew immediately when he saw Northup at the car show, and all of the feelings he once had for her came rushing back, that he wanted to marry her. They have been inseparable ever since.
He proposed on Valentine's Day.
Northup recalled, "He just asked me: 'Will you be my wife?' and I said, 'Yes.'
"I guess we just carried this love all these years even though we went our separate ways." She added that the only way to explain it is that, "It's God's will."
Looking forward to their recent nuptials, Brown said, "I think it's going to be fantastic."