Since childhood, we are made to believe that parents know what is best for us. Most of the times they are right but sometimes neither do we understand the reason for some of their decisions nor do they turn out to be right. In those cases, children suffer because of the incomprehensible and unreasonable decisions of their parents. This is what happened in this case where a father without any reasonable cause refused his daughter to marry the love of her life. But he did not know that 50 years later those kids would have discovered something that would change their world.
Love At First Sight
The story is of Janice Rude who was a sophomore at the Occidental College in Los Angeles and Prentiss Willson who was a freshman and it dates back 50 years. It was love at first sight for both, just like in the movies. Wilson thought that they were meant to be. He said, “I even remember the first time I laid eyes on Janice.”
Small Town Girl
Janice Rude belonged to a middle-class family and had humble beginnings. She was raised in Reno, Nevada and remembers her father as a strict and tough, street-smart guy. He was not a fan of intellectual pursuits as it was beyond his comprehension but he supported Rude’s desire to study and get an education. She took up Biology as her major in the Occidental college, but she did not know that she had not even seen the love of her life there yet.
On the other hand, Willson belonged to a well to do intellectual family of East Coast Transplants. Prentiss was Janice’s junior and arrived there in 1962. He was a straight-As student and held the position of leadership in the Kappa Sigma fraternity. A great catch for any girl. But he fell for Janice.
All Happened By An Occident
The Occidental College was founded in 1887 by some people in the Eagle Rock neighborhood, who wanted a place to learn in South California. It is a private liberal arts college in Los Angeles. It was supposed to be an all men’s school but luckily for Rude And Willson that never happened or they would not have found each other.
This is how they first met. Janice worked the morning shift in serving breakfast at the school cafeteria as she came from modest means. A lot of athletes went for a run and jogging in the morning who stopped by at the cafeteria. One day, at 6 am, Willson was the first in line. After that day, he was the first in line every day.
Love Story Begins
Willson said,”I just wanted to see her and have our little morning exchange.” For Janice too, it was a fairytale moment when Willson first came through those doors. She started feeling butterflies in her stomach and her heart was in her throat the moment she laid eyes on Willson. Little did she know that her father would be the villain in this love story.
Found Love In A Hopeless Place
How often do people find love in school cafeterias? Not very. But for Janice and Prentiss time came to a halt when they gazed into each other’s eyes. This is what Willson said later, “I actually didn’t think I had a chance with her,” he added. “She was a year ahead of me and just so beautiful.”
Willson was a shy man. He could not even bring himself to say a Hi to Janice let along ask her name directly. It took him 25 days but he finally found out her name. For Janice, it wasn’t as difficult to get information about Wilson. After all, she had publicly heard the name when Kappa Sigma quit in order to allow a black student, Gene Grisby to pledge. Now both of them had each other’s basic information. And every day he showed up at the cafeteria, they both exchanged their love in the form of a smile.
He Did Not Show Up
Their morning meets had become a routine but on one occasion Willson did not turn up at his usual time to the cafeteria. Right before the classes were supposed to dissolve for the Thanksgiving break, the college organized a dinner. This was not the place the two lovebirds usually met at but Janice was hoping and expecting to find Prentiss there. Their conversations had started happening by now and Janice was looking forward to spending time with him. When he did not show up, she upped her crazy levels a notch and did this.
Girl In Action
Janice found out that Willson had left to be with his parents on Thanksgiving and was probably at his home by then. She asked around for Willson’s address and one of his fraternity brothers obliged her. Next thing we know, she drove down 150 miles to Santa Maria and gave a knock at his door which proved to be a key to his locked heart.
Two Fishes In A Pond
After the mentioned incident. Janice was introduced to Willson’s family whose mother took an instant liking to her. She returned to the college after that and when Prentiss came back after holidays they seldom left each other’s company. They strolled in the campus arm in arm and were never seen without each then.
Soon after that, they announced their engagement. It was probably a mistake because what happened next proved to be both, embarrassing and heartbreaking for the two of them. Nevertheless, the news of their engagement got published in the local newspaper and the announcement ended in these words:”No date has been set for the wedding.”
Cue Entry- Villain Dad
The story sounds too smooth, right? Well, here comes the disruption. After the engagement was announced, Janice’s father rejected Prentiss. Reason? No one has been able to figure out even 50 years later. He ordered Janice to end her relationship with Willson right away and he threatened her with shocking consequences if she did not.
Love Or Career?
Janice’s heart was shattered because her father gave her an ultimatum that if he does not stop seeing Prentiss he will stop paying for her education. She had to make a tough decision. She had managed to acquire an education with a lot of difficulties as her father did not believe in intellectual learning.
Why Janice’s dad disapproved of Willson has not yet been discovered but there have been guesses as to what the reason could have been. Some believe that it was because Willson’s family was Jewish and Janice was a Christian. The reason could also be that since Janice’s father was a businessman, he could not find a match with Prentiss’s intellectual family. Unable to convince her father to revert his decision, Janice appealed to her mother.
The Schemes Of Women
Desperate to help out her daughter, Janice’s mother registered for a second mortgage for her house so that she could support her daughter’s education without taking any help from her father for monetary contributions. However, this scheme did not transpire. Janice feared that if she dropped her education, Prentiss would lose respect for her.
Prentiss tried to reassure Janice that he would not leave her even if she stopped her education in between. His mother gave them the idea to even elope together. But with the loyalty towards her studies and under the pressure of her father Janice just could not agree to it. January was the month of decision.
Willson tried everything in his power to keep Janice but she decided to return the engagement ring. Prentiss said, “We tried to figure things out but I guess we weren’t smart enough. We had to. We didn’t want to, but we had to.” It was heartbreaking for the both of them but they both went their separate ways after college. What would happen after 50 years, they didn’t have clue.
Successful Lives Apart
After graduation, Janice could not even live her dream of becoming a Biologist. She started running her family’s diving board manufacturing business in Reno, Nevada. Given her brilliant mind, it is no surprise that she was successful in her job. She was even inducted as an honorary member of the United States of America Diving Association’s Hall of Fame for the work that she did in the industry.
Gathering The Pieces
Prentiss was shattered after their break up but he realized that Janice would not be coming back to him anytime soon and he had to move on. He was a smart chap and after Occidental College, he went on to take admission in Harvard Law School. Soon, he climbed up the ladder and found himself as one of the top tax attorneys in the San Francisco Bay area.
By now Janice and Willson had different lives. They both married different people but as fate would have it, both of them divorced. An incident that happened in both their lives shook both of them and led to the crossing of their paths.
Call it destiny or the work of God, both Janice Rude and Prentiss Willson found themselves in similar situations when both their mothers passed away within weeks from each other. The ex-lovers paths had not crossed in over 5 decades but the fate seemed to work its magic, after 50 long years.
Newspaper Dating Back To 1962
When they started going through their mothers’ old belongings, both stumbled upon a piece of paper which brought memories flooding back. Their mothers knew all along that they were meant to be with each other. It was after finding this memory they decided to meet each other again.
Just the thought of reconnecting with each other was exciting and tingling. They reconnected over a brunch at a mainstay in San Francisco, Cliff House on 20th June 2010. Their meeting was intense and they just could not take their eyes off each other. Wilson said “The mothers got it. The mothers simply knew, and I think we [he and Rude] also knew.”
A Romantic Like None Other
Willson was an extremely romantic person. He even kept a tab of the number of days he and Janice had spent apart. He said, “We lament every day that we missed being together. That’s about 17,500 days, but who’s counting?”
Engaged After Half A Century
Within six months of their reunion the couple got engaged again and in 2012, on August 19, Janice and Prentiss came back to the place where they first fell for each other and finally, after half a century, they tied a knot. They used their previous engagement announcement to be published in the newspaper. Many of their Occidental college friends attended the wedding.
Wedding Of The Era
The stars shone on the couple and angels came down to give their blessing when Janice and Prentiss promised to spend the rest of their lives together. The coupled played 6 songs in their wedding which were sequenced in a way which perfectly captured their love story.
Happily Ever After
Janice Rude and Prentiss Willson now live together in a house in Napa Valley. They are enjoying their retirement years in the company of each other. In an interview, they said that they feel like they are 18 again.
Small Celebrities Now
Their love story melted the hearts of many and inspired the youth to keep faith in love. Janice and Prentiss set couple goals and created a buzz in news for long.
Now, this is what we call an extravagant love story. There was drama, heartbreak, a villain and obviously the power of love which conquered every obstacle!