A fairy tale story with a tragic ending was voted as the No.5 news story of 2012 by employees of the Decatur Daily Democrat.
On September 15, Decatur resident Bob Brown married his childhood sweetheart, Edith Northrup, in Berne. It was a match 50 years in the making.
On June 9, 1960, at the age of 19, Brown came into contact with 7,200 volts of electricity while working at a construction site. He lost both of his hands and both of his feet in the accident and wore prosthetic limbs since that time.
A year later Brown and Northrup began dating after they met at work, 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. My father put so much pressure on me that I ended up breaking up with him and we went our separate ways. I was so depressed that I went out and found another job.”
A heartbroken Brown did the same. Over the years, they both married others and lived happy, fulfilling lives.
Brown and Northup accidentally ran into each other from time to time — “Four times in 50 years,” Bob later recalled. Although surprised at the meeting each time, they exchanged only pleasantries and remained respectful of the other’s personal situation. Then came a meeting that changed both their lives.
In 2011, Brown — now a widower — approached his former sweetheart, now also single, and they chatted and reminisced about old times. Brown said he knew immediately that he wanted to marry her. He proposed on Valentine’s Day. They were just married September 15, in an outdoor ceremony at the Berne American Legion post.
But there was no happy ending to this love story. Bob Brown died Nov. 3 at Lutheran Hospital in Fort Wayne. He was 72.