HINCKLEY – Prom and God. According to Jerry Reingardt of Hinckley, that’s what brought him and his second wife, Janice, together after more than four decades.
“It was like a magnet pulling me back to her,” he said.
“We are thankful that God brought us together at this stage in our life,” Janice said.
As high school sophomores, they attended the first prom at the newly consolidated Hinckley-Big Rock High School in 1958. Although Janice thinks one of her girlfriends may have brought them together, neither remembers much except for a big picture in the school yearbook of them dancing.
Although they flirted a lot, Jerry didn’t ask Janice out again after the prom. She thought she may have done something to hurt him.
“She was so nice, I never figured she’d be interested,” he explained. “I thought about it quite a bit, but I didn’t figure she’d go out with me again.”
After graduation, they went their separate ways, and both got married. Janice’s husband passed away in 1996, after 31 years of marriage. In February of 2006, so did Jerry’s wife of 41 years.
A day after letting God know she was lonely, Janice got an email from a mutual friend, Leonard Abell, saying Jerry was trying to contact old classmates. They began exchanging emails and phone calls without thinking anything would come of it.
The couple was married Nov. 26, 2006.
“We just never dreamed (this would happen),” Janice said. “We hadn’t seen each other since 1960; 40-some years.”
Perhaps the biggest challenge the couple faced was telling Jerry’s two sons and eight grandchildren and Janice’s two sons and five grandchildren.
“They were very protective of me,” Janice said.
Despite so many years, the Reingardts agreed it was easier to reunite than they thought.
“We knew the character of the other person and they were trustworthy,” Janice said. “I never would have gone on the Internet.”
“I knew she was nice then and now I know she is wonderful,” Jerry said, adding that they’re writing a book to inspire others.