LARGO, Fla. - When you meet Carol and Bill Marion, it's clear they are madly in love.
"He is so romantic. He really is," Carol said, clutching Bill's hand. "It's just like your soul mate."
But it took them 54 years to walk the aisle, even though they fell for each other on a blind date in high school.
"When I saw him on that blind date, I said 'Oh, my God. He is so hot! He's not going to like me,' you know," said Carol.
Bill said, "I thought the same thing. I thought she was hot, too."
Carol was 18, bill 17. Even then, they knew.
"Yeah, I saw her and said that's the one for me," said Bill.
But Carol's parents didn't think so. She was an older woman, if only by six months.
"My parents were upset, because they thought he was not right for me. He was seventeen, didn't have a job, and they kept discouraging it. They wanted me to find somebody a little more stable," said Carol. "Especially back in the 50's, your parents really influenced you."
But even after Bill enlisted with the Army, they kept dating.
"We wrote each other every day," said Carol. "I really loved him."
"I was really serious, but I guess she did not think I was that serious," said Bill.
That's because Carol bowed under her parents' pressure to date an older boy.
"I was lonely, and I got confused. I was really torn, but I thought, 'Well, my mom is right.' Bill was still in the Army. This guy was 23, and had a job as a brick layer. So I accepted the engagement ring. So, I wrote Bill a 'dear John' letter," said Carol.
"I just couldn't believe it," said Bill. I kept reading the letter over and over. I just said I can't believe this. I thought there was something more to it or something. I went on leave, and I came home.
Bill tracked Carol down at her job, days before the wedding.
"I was trying to talk her out of getting married, and she said, 'Oh, I can't do that. Everything is planned,'" said Bill.
Carol said, "I already had the shower. I can't send the gifts back. It was so silly. I was only 18 years old and immature."
Bill refused to give up.
"I went to the church. I was in my uniform, and I was in the back. I watched her get married. When she got married and said, 'I do,' I just left."
A friend later told Carol. "She said tears were rolling down his face and then he disappeared."
Both went on with their lives. They got married and had children.
Then Carol's husband died.
"I had talked about my first love with my daughters, so all four of them knew about him. My eldest said 'Mom, why don't you look for Bill Marion?' And then she said, 'Why don't you try Facebook?' and I said, 'Oh, I never thought about that.' So it was a fluke. So we did!" said Carol.
Bill was divorced and living in Virginia, but within months came to Florida. The two met at a restaurant.
"I was kind of nervous at first. I walked in and saw her way across the room," said Bill. "It was like no time had gone by at all."
Carol said, "He said to me, 'You have not changed at all,' and I said, 'You really have not either. Your eyes are the same.' So we sat and talked for hours. Neither of us could eat anything, because my stomach was in knots," said Carol.
But it's as if time stood still. Bill showed Carol a sketch he had carried him with him for five decades. It was a drawing of her senior picture.
And within months of reuniting, the two decided to tie the knot. Bill finally got to see his bride walk down the aisle.
"He had his eyes on me, I kept blushing," said Carol. "No one had ever been so enamored with me before. He was crying when I walked down the aisle. All he could say was, 'How beautiful you are.'"
And at 72 and 71, they feel just like teenagers again.
"We hope when people watch this, they will be inspired. Never give up on love. Never give up," said Carol.
Bill said, "It's never too late. She is my first love, and she is my last."
Carol said, "He died nearly three times. He had a heart attack, was electrocuted and even had gangrene set in. Bill told me he really believed God saved me for you. I really do believe that too. I think it was just meant to be. I can't explain it. It's this feeling you have that it never went away and in fact, I think now it is even stronger than it ever was."
On Valentine's Day, the couple will spend the evening having a nice dinner and then come home and dance to their song, "At Last."
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