It was only a few months they were together at Oswego, but the spark between Bill Hart and Phyllis O’Brien Rech, class of 1945, would survive through more than 65 years and three marriages.
They were holding hands and sneaking kisses again in 2007.
“It never died, it was just dormant,” said Hart, who was stationed at Oswego for three months with the U.S. Air Corps. “It’s just like where we left off, except we’re older.”
Hart and the other airmen studied while on campus and that was where he first met Rech, an education major who would go on to a career in teaching. Though they were only together a short time, they exchanged letters frequently for about two years.
The letter-sending ended around the time Rech got engaged ... to someone else.
“Everywhere I went in the service, I had these letters and I would reread them,” Hart said.
In 2004, about six years after his wife passed away, Hart called the Oswego Alumni Association in hopes of reconnecting with Rech, who, it turned out, had been widowed by two husbands.
“I couldn’t believe he had saved all those letters,” she said.
They began talking and dating again and now they live together, splitting time between Hart’s Connecticut home and Rech’s condo in Central New York.
“We love every minute of it,” Rech said. “It’s almost like starting over, it’s still so new to us.
“We just cherish every moment we have together,” she said.
The two enjoy their daily walks and listening to music together. There’s nary a moment the couple is apart.
“The one thing she won’t do with me is get on the back of my motorcycle,” Hart said with a chuckle.
Give her time.
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PHOTO CAPTION: As Time Goes By—Bill Hart and 1945 graduate Phyllis O’Brien Rech were reunited more than 60 years after their first meeting in Oswego.
(Posted: Jan 30, 2009)