Couple Marries 65 years after First Meeting

The story of Ethel Lee and Odell Robbins arrived in my inbox under the alert for my novel A Love Rekindled. The couple got married last week, 65 years after they first met. Ethel met Odell, they dated for a while, and then moved on with their lives, only reconnecting this year, when Odell moved back to the same city. Certainly echoes of Kevwe and Efe in A Love Rekindled. Enjoy the old school love story...

The year was 1947. Ethel Lee Lagrand was standing in line to go into a club, but she could not get in. The doorman was giving her a hard time.

“He said I didn’t look old enough,” recalls Lagrand, 89.

Out of nowhere a guy she’d never met before stepped up and said, “She’s old enough. She’s with me.” He took her by the arm, and the bouncer let them in.

The man that came to her rescue was Odell Robbins. Robbins, a World War II veteran, had taken notice of Lagrand while standing in line. He said he liked her style and the way she carried herself.

“She seemed to be suited for me,” says Robbins, 88. Sixty-five years later, he made her his wife.

Ethel and Odell were living in Greensboro when they first met. They dated off and on for several years, during which Odell moved to Philadelphia. They maintained a long-distance relationship until he returned about six months later.

Then, Odell left again. This time, he stayed gone.

“When I came out of the army, I promised myself that I would see more of the world,” Odell said. “I hadn’t seen enough of it overseas so I just started traveling.”

Robbins stayed away for nearly 20 years.

“I didn’t even see my mama,” he says.

During their time apart, Odell and Ethel married other people. Odell married twice and had seven children. All the while Ethel remained on his mind and in his heart, but he did not see her again until earlier this year.

Ethel, who lives in Greensboro, heard Odell was living in Charlotte. She got in touch with his cousin to see if she knew how to reach him. The cousin did not have Odell’s phone number but informed Ethel that the family had a big reunion coming up. During the reunion, the cousin got Robbins’ contact information and shared it with Ethel.

That was June. The first time Ethel called Odell, she left him a message and was elated when he finally returned her call.

“I still loved him,” she says. “When I got back in touch with him, all my love came back. We started all over again… I was very much glad and so happy.”

Ethel traveled to Charlotte to see Odell, and when she arrived she wasted no time making her intentions known.

“I asked his daughter how she would feel about me being her stepmother,” she said of Odell’s youngest daughter, who lives in Charlotte. “She said she loved me and would love for me to be her stepmother. She greeted me with love and I greeted her back with love. I loved her the first time I met her.”

The couple married Oct. 11 at the Mecklenburg County Courthouse.

When asked why it took so long for them to get hitched, the couple said that was just the way God planned it.

“I’ve been gone all of these years, and we found one another again,” Odell said. “I know that wasn’t man. That was God, and I know God don’t play. I knew then that she was my wife… I know that whatever God leads you to do, it is right.”

“I just thank God for putting us back together,” the new Mrs. Robbins says.

“I’m happy now, and I want to stay that way,” Odell said. “We will never separate again.”