He kept spinning the records on the radio station of the US Navy in the Caribbean base, and she, a resident of the island, had a brother who worked in that base.
For more than half a century since the brother of Jennifer Meyerink introduced her and Stephen Walbert, the love of that separated couple was finally sealed in Rochester, New York, as they were married on Monday at the hospital where Walbert was undergoing treatment for leukemia.
“That eternal flame turned into a bonfire, and it’s still roaring today,” 73-year-old Steven said, as the relatives and staff of the General Hospital rushed into his room to witness the wedding ceremony performed by a city registrar.
In honor of Elvis, Walbert wore a black sequined suit, a purple scarf and sunglasses. The bride was in an elegant black dress with purple decoration in her hair.
Stephen, who is from Chicago, was stationed in Trinidad and Tobago in 1965, where he played music at night via a military radio station. But as soon as the two fell in love, he was transferred back to the U.S. He gave his dog tags to Jennifer, saying, “Darling, I’ll be back one day for this.”
But he did not return to the island. They lost contact, they both got married to someone else and got their families – Jennifer all the way in Ontario, Canada, and Walbert in Wisconsin, the United States.
Since Jennifer remained a widow after her husband’s death, her sister found Walter on Facebook, by then also a widower. They started to correspond by e-mail, and then met again in 2015. Walbert moved to Canada as early as in March 2016. “I realized that I never stopped loving him,” said 72-year-old Jennifer.
In October last year, Walbert was diagnosed with leukemia. He decided to treat himself in Rochester, where his son lives.
“I haven’t given up hope on myself yet,” said Walbert, carrying the dog tags Jennifer had saved for more than 50 years around his neck. “And I never will. I have her back, and that gives me all the strength I need to get through the rest of my life.”