Two Altamonte-Wekiva Springs Life staffers share how their late-blooming love stories came full circle
Publisher’s note: Our community is filled with so many great stories and incredible people, it’s not often – and not lightly – that we decide to shine a spotlight on members of our own team. Some stories, however, are just too charming not to share. So indulge us ever so briefly as we continue the proud Altamonte-Wekiva Springs Life tradition of featuring Valentine’s Day love stories in our January/February issue, this time with two of our own.
It’s a year that couples Pam and Jerry and Jill and Kurt will never forget. Two romantic destinies were set on their course that year, but it would be decades later before either would be fulfilled. While their hearts were forever linked in 1967, both couples never came face-to-face again until fate was ready to reconnect them in unexpected, everlasting love.
Pam and Jerry Czopp
Pam and Jerry met on a blind date at a Rutgers University fraternity party in New Jersey. He was a 19-year-old sophomore. Pam was a high-school senior.
“We had a great connection from day one,” says Pam, account executive for Altamonte-Wekiva Springs Life and Lake Mary Life magazines. “Jerry was a crazy guy, unpredictable, and a lot of fun.”
The couple dated briefly before Jerry joined the Army in 1967, and that was supposed to be it.
“We had to go our separate ways,” says Jerry, whose duty took him to Korea, “but I never forgot about Pam. In fact, I tried to see her while on leave, but it was too late. By then, Pam was engaged to someone else.”
Both Pam and Jerry moved on, married other people, had children, divorced, and let 33 years go by without contact. But good, old-fashioned snail mail brought them back together.
One year, Pam decided to participate in Friendship Week as a way to connect with new and old friends. With the help of a quick Internet search, she found Jerry’s contact information and sent him a letter. He was living in Buffalo, New York, at the time while Pam was in New Jersey. Little did Pam know her mere act of friendship would set them back on destiny’s course.
“When I received that envelope, it’s as if I had a premonition,” recalls Jerry. “I didn’t even have to open it to know that something special was going to happen. I recognized Pam’s handwriting, and I said to myself, ‘If I open this letter, my life will change forever.’”
Jerry was spot-on. One letter turned into more than 100 letters of correspondence, before it was finally time to meet again.
“I was probably as nervous as I was on our first date back in the 1960s,” says Pam, “but when we reconnected, it was as if 33 years hadn’t gone by. It’s really special to get back together with someone who you had memories with, growing up in the same era.”
Within a year-and-a-half, Pam and Jerry tied the knot, putting on a three-day wacky wedding to remember.
“We had something fun planned every evening,” says Pam, smiling reminiscently. “On day one, we had a Buffalo chicken wing and Canadian beer party. For day two, we hired an Elvis impersonator during dinner, and at the wedding we gave out party favor boxer shorts that read, ‘I danced my pants off!’”
The couple lived in Buffalo for a few years but grew tired of the snow.
“We decided it was time to change our lifestyle, so we moved to Lake Mary in 2001 and started to build a new life here,” says Jerry, now happily retired.
With two of six grandkids living a few houses down from them, Pam and Jerry are not only devoted to one another, but also to their grandchildren. Their days are filled with activities like attending their grandson Sammy’s baseball games or granddaughter Bella’s chorus concerts, or perhaps spending the day at a theme park.
When asked about her grandparents, 14-year-old Bella exclaims, “Oh my gosh, I love everything about them! They’re a lot of fun, and I’m really happy they’re my grandparents. Seeing them be together is definitely special.”
Jill Cousins and Kurt Levy
In the same year, 1967, about two hours northeast of the fraternity where Pam and Jerry met in New Jersey, another cosmic destiny was forming in Public School 179 in Queens, New York. There, seven-year-old Jill Cousins met Kurt Levy, a smart-aleck second grader who lived around the corner.
It didn’t take long for Kurt to make a first impression. While he was friendly with Jill’s twin sister, Andrea, he took to teasing Jill about not belonging to a synagogue or attending religious services. Years later when Jill, an Altamonte-Wekiva Springs Life staff writer, decided to become a bat mitzvah as an adult in 2008 she gave a nod to Kurt’s childhood taunt during her bat mitzvah speech.
“I had to talk about why I decided to do this at a late stage in my life,” says Jill, now 56. “I spoke about my years of Jewish guilt, tracing it back to third grade when a chubby-cheeked boy named Kurt Levy told me I wasn’t really Jewish. I read that speech in front of 300 people at my synagogue, and it got a lot of laughs.”
Though Jill left New York and moved to Florida after fourth grade, the playful sting of Kurt’s comments always stuck. So much so that when Jill’s elementary school classmates decided to gather for a reunion in New York in 2010, Jill was determined to track Kurt down and tell him the funny story of her bat mitzvah speech.
“Jill emailed me, and I gave her my number so I could hear the story,” recalls Kurt, who was now living in New Jersey. “I took it as a sign from God. I thought, ‘Wow! She’s been thinking about me.’ There were a few girls I had a crush on in third grade, and Jill was one of them.”
“When Kurt showed up at the reunion, as soon as I saw him, I had this weird feeling: Kurt is the man I’m supposed to be with,” says Jill. “It was unexpected and wonderful. I never thought I would find love after 50.”
“Our chemistry was way beyond anything I’d experienced,” says Kurt. “We hit it off in every respect: physically, intellectually, emotionally, and spiritually. I had to take a chance because I knew Jill was worth it.”
At the reunion, the two spent hours catching up, falling hard and fast for each other. When Jill returned to her Winter Springs home, she and Kurt emailed back and forth every day, quickly proclaiming their love for one another.
“I was a little freaked out because we had already said we loved each other, and we hadn’t even had a first date!” admits Jill. “But when Kurt came to visit me in Florida, as soon as we kissed, I knew he was the one!”
Dating 1,100 miles apart was not easy, but Kurt and Jill knew it was right and worth the inconvenience. They took turns flying to visit one another each month and talked multiple times a day. Jill and Kurt were married in June 2013, but they spent a total of six years managing a long-distance relationship before Kurt moved to Florida for good in August 2016.
“It’s really amazing how much Kurt and I have in common,” Jill says with a smile. “We both love sports and fitness, we’re both silly and immature at times, we both love to talk. We say to each other, ‘We know we’re not perfect, but we know we’re perfect for each other.’ Kurt also taught me the Yiddish word bashert, which means when someone or something is your destiny. Kurt is definitely my bashert!”
Kurt likes to think that both Andrea, his childhood classmate, and Jill’s twin sister who died in 1988, are looking down on them, glad that they’re together.
Jill smiles and replies to his sweet remark, “I’d like to think that, too.”
Want More Information?