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He proposed 60 years ago, then broke her heart. Now they've finally tied the knot

Ed and Priscilla married in December, 2022, at the Hagerstown, Md. church where they first met.
Ed Sneckenberger
Ed and Priscilla married in December, 2022, at the Hagerstown, Md. church where they first met.

Sixty years after he first ended their engagement, Priscilla Matheny got a Facebook friend request from the man who broke her heart. She declined it (queen!) but her romance with Ed Sneckenberger proved to be far from over.

Who are they? It depends on what point in time we're looking at, but the gist is that they're two lovers who seemed fated to be together.

  • Priscilla and Ed first met in 1959 in Hagerstown, Md., through involvement in their church, and took a liking to each other right away.
  • After about three years of dating, Ed proposed. And despite dealing with a long-distance relationship while the couple balanced school and work, Priscilla said she was "overjoyed" for their new chapter. 
  • Soon after, though, Ed began having second thoughts, as he realized the financial restraints of pursuing academia would make marriage a difficult prospect. He sent Priscilla a letter explaining his reasoning, and called the proposal off.
  • Priscilla says she was brokenhearted after receiving it, and never spoke to Ed again. "After I read it, I sat on the edge of the bed and cried and cried and cried," she told NPR.
  • The two carried on with their own lives. They both got married, had kids, and then grandkids.  
  • A photo of a young Priscilla.
    / Ed Sneckenberger
    /
    Ed Sneckenberger
    A photo of a young Priscilla.

    What's the big deal? True love never dies! That's what the big freaking deal is!

  • In 2021, Ed's first wife, Scottie Hansbrough, died. And as he grieved, he remembered the experience he had with his first love, Priscilla. His sisters encouraged him to reach out and apologize for how things had ended all of those years earlier. 
  • The search wasn't easy, says Ed. He didn't know her married name, or where she was, but he was eventually able to find her through their church's Facebook page. That's when he sent her a friend request and some messages trying to reconnect. 
  • Priscilla, who was also widowed, promptly deleted his digital attempts at reconciliation: "When I got the friend request, I thought, 'I don't want to be his friend.' So I just deleted it." 
  • But Ed was persistent, even contacting their church to get ahold of her, and Priscilla figured the only way to make him stop would be to meet up. The two reconnected at a Panera Bread in Hagerstown right before Easter last year.  
  • After a few hours of talking, apologizing and reminiscing, the flame, as Priscilla put it, was "rekindled." 

  • Want more stories about love? Listen to the Consider This episode on how love is in the air — and on the bookshelves


    A photo of the happy couple at Cracker Barrel.
    / Ed Sneckenberger
    /
    Ed Sneckenberger
    A photo of the happy couple at Cracker Barrel.

    What are they saying?

    Priscilla on Ed when they first met:

    I just knew he was a fine young Christian man, which was what I was looking for, because I wanted somebody that was going to go to church with me on Sunday mornings ... And I thought he was pretty handsome too.

    Ed on seeing Priscilla for the first time in 60 years:

    I wanted to just say I was sorry. That was the biggest reason, and that could have been the end of it. But I was happy to see a beautiful lady, which I expected, and I kept thinking, 'I want to pursue this a little bit if we can.'

    Priscilla on forgiving Ed:

    Well, that Saturday morning when he said he was just asking for forgiveness, I mean, I just told him, I really had put him out of my life then. [If] somebody doesn't want you, you know, I wasn't going to let him ruin my life anyhow. So I just told him, 'Did it matter?' He didn't have to even ask for forgiveness.

    Ed on their reunification:

    Both of us, in our own ways, have lived good lives. And Priscilla particularly was, in retirement. She had already become established in the days when I was trying to contact her, she didn't need another person in her life.

    She has a beautiful home, beautiful family, beautiful friends, and what the heck does she need but another person in her life?

    A little bit of the same on my part. I was living in a retirement community in Morgantown, it was going to be an ideal place for me to spend the rest of my life. And I shouldn't have been looking for something else in my life. But once I felt I had to find this lady, and say I was sorry, it changed everything.

    Ed and Priscilla at their wedding in December.
    / Ed Sneckenberger
    /
    Ed Sneckenberger
    Ed and Priscilla at their wedding in December.

    So, what now?

  • In a cosmically gorgeous full circle moment, the couple tied the knot this past December in the very church that they first met. 
  • It's a big day for all those delusional romantics out there with an ex that they miss and the audacity to dream! (don't text them)   
  • Ed and Priscilla.
    / Ed Sneckenberger
    /
    Ed Sneckenberger
    Ed and Priscilla.

    Read more stories about love:

  • After a Marine loses his memory, he and his wife navigate a new kind of relationship
  • How Jack Baker and Michael McConnell became husbands in 1971
  • Two friends tell the story of their reunion after years of separation
  • Copyright 2023 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

    Manuela López Restrepo
    Manuela López Restrepo is a producer and writer at All Things Considered. She's been at NPR since graduating from The University of Maryland, and has worked at shows like Morning Edition and It's Been A Minute. She lives in Brooklyn with her cat Martin.
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