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FIRST LOVE-AFTER ALL THESE YEARS

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FIRST LOVE-AFTER ALL THESE YEARS Human presence is a creative and turbulent sacrament, a visible sign of invisible grace. Nowhere else is there such intimate and frightening access to the mysterium. Love is the sweet grace that liberates us to approach, recognize, and inhabit this adventure. The mystery never leaves us alone. Behind our image, below our words, above our thoughts, the silence of another world waits—John O'Donohue

"First love" is the sweet grace that reconnected a long time resident of Waynedale, Betty Lorenz and her childhood sweetheart William Bliss. Bill and Betty first met at Harmer Grade School in the 7th grade during the 1933-34 school year. Bill carried Betty's books and they saw each other as often as their parents permitted. It flew-in-the-face of bicycle safety, but Bill took Betty for rides on the handlebars of his orange bicycle. They attended Fort Wayne's Central High School together and were featured in "The Spot Light," Central High's newspaper.

Catastrophe blindsided Betty in 1936 when her mother suddenly died, it was her sophomore year and she had to quit school and become the primary caregiver to her sisters, the youngest of which was 13 months. Bill and Betty went their separate ways after she left school. Betty married Harry Lorenz on March 4, 1940; they had two children; son, James Lorenz, age 69 and a daughter, Judy Hambrock, age 61. Betty has 2 grandchildren and 3 great grandchildren.
After Bill graduated from high school, he worked at Tokheim Pump until he enlisted in the Army during March of 1942. Bill's basic training was at a large Army base--Maryland's Aberdeen Proving Grounds. Bill shipped out to North Africa during November of 1942 and was later sent to England for the Normandy invasion of France in June of 1942.

Betty stayed in contact with Bill's mother and in her letters to her son she always mentioned that Betty had inquired about him. Bill was discharged from the Army in 1945 and worked at International Harvester Co., and used the GI Bill to earn an engineering degree. Recently Bill returned to Normandy and retraced his steps across the same beach, up the same cliffs and past the same German Bunkers. During his first Normandy experience his greatest fear, besides mortars, artillery barrages and small arms fire was of landmines that killed and maimed so many soldiers—they were planted everywhere. Bill's second journey through Normandy was much less stressful, and he said, "The people in France truly love Americans."

Bill married Elizabeth Lohman on June 8, 1950. That marriage produced 2 daughters; Laura Bliss Roman, age 57 and Denise Bliss, age 54; he has 2 grandchildren and 3 great grandchildren.

Betty's husband Harry passed away in 1994 and Bill's wife passed in 2010.
After 73 years, Betty wondered, was Bill still alive? Was he still married? What happened to him?

Betty asked her grandson, Christopher, to see if he could find Bill on the Internet. Christopher found Bill's phone number, but it took Betty two months to call him.

"Bill," she said, "Do you remember Betty Schnepp?"

"Oh, Yes," said Bill, "She was my first love!"

Bill lived in Fishers, Indiana, but said that he was coming to Fort Wayne. Betty suggested they could meet at the Bluffton Road Hall's Restaurant.

Betty thought it was the end of things after their first meeting, but Bill called her and invited her to dinner--their second date was at Hall's Triangle Park Restaurant.

Bill moved back to Fort Wayne and now lives just a few blocks from Betty and well...the end of this love story is still in the making...

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John Stark
About This Author
The author of the "Tales from the Caribbean" fictional column. He attended school at Waynedale Elementary, Maplewood, Elmhurst HS in the Waynedale area. John had 25 years of professional writing experience when he passed away in 2012.
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