A love story: Newsoms couple reunites after 45 years

Published 10:17 am Saturday, February 12, 2011

Jerry and Claudette Nehrebecki, second and third from left in front, remarried in September, 48 years after their first marriage. They have a combined eight children, who are, in front from left, April Marquez, Jerry Nehrebecki Jr. and David Nehrebecki; and in back, Mark Trull, Billy Nehrebecki, Michael Pilgrim, Billy Trull and Dwayne Trull.

Editor’s Note: The Tidewater News asked its readers for a great love story for Valentine’s Day and received one from Jerry Nahrebecki of Newsoms, who in September remarried his first wife, Claudette, 45 years after they separated. Jerry and Claudette were 16 and 14, respectively, when they met at a North Carolina beach club. Today, they are 67 and 65. The Nahrebeckis have a combined eight children, 21 grandchildren and three great-grandchildren.

I’m Jerry Nahrebecki, and my wife is Claudette. Everyone we tell our story to tells us it is a great love story and should be made into a book or movie.

Here is the condensed version.

Back in the summer of 1959, my best friend and I were cruising for girls at a beach club in North Carolina. There were two girls dancing together on the dance floor, and I was immediately attracted to one of them, however, I was too shy to approach her.

Finally, my friend approached the other girl and struck up a conversation, and soon came back and told me the other girl wanted to meet me.

Long story short, we dated off and on for about a year and then steady for a couple of years.

Then in the summer of 1962, her parents decided to move to South Carolina. Not wanting to be separated, we married in September of that year. I had just turned 19 and she had just had her 17th birthday.

Jerry and Claudette Nahrebecki as a young couple in the early 1960s. They married in September 1962 when he was 19 and she was 17.

Things went well, and we were very happy and very much in love as only young lovers can be. Then in August 1963 — she was still 17 and I had just turned 20 — we were blessed with a beautiful healthy son. Life was good and we were very happy then.

About two years later for reasons that now seem so foolish the marriage fell apart and we separated. After repeated tries to resolve our issues, we gave up and divorced. Claudette moved to North Carolina, and our son remained with me.

In June 1967, I remarried, and she eventually remarried. I had two sons with my second wife. Claudette over the years had three marriages and four sons and a daughter.

For reasons too complicated to explain, we didn’t maintain contact and only met briefly in 1977. Since that time, we had no contact for more than 33 years.

I was married to my second wife for more than 42 years, and she died from cancer in August 2009. In March 2010, our grandson had a baby boy.

Claudette had never seen our grandson and knew nothing of the new baby. One night, while playing with my new computer, I got an impulsive notion to try to find Claudette, so I could give her the news.

Well, I couldn’t find her, but I located her sister, who was still living in South Carolina. She told me that Claudette was still living in South Carolina and gave me her phone number.

The next day, not knowing what to expect, I dialed the number and was somewhat surprised that she answered. Hearing her voice after more than 33 years was a pleasant surprise, and to say she was surprised to hear from me would be an understatement.

After the usual “how are you” and “good to hear your voice,” I got down to the reason for the call. Claudette was glad to hear from me and very surprised to hear that she was a great-grandmother.

Then in a moment of bravery and nervousness, I said I wanted to tell her something that meant a lot to me.

I stated that I thought that we were foolish so many years ago and wanted her to know that I had loved her then still — had over all the years and always would.

After a long silence on her end, Claudette said something that knocked me for a loop; she said that she felt the same way about me, but had never thought that I cared for her.

We talked for quite some time and ended the conversation with her planning to visit the next weekend so we could decide what we wanted to do.

Well, it was the most awesome week of my life — filled with phone calls and e-mails — but also the longest week of my life.

Finally, she left after work and drove straight through to my home, arriving just before midnight on Friday. When she stepped from her car, I was seeing her for the first time in over 33 years. I told her to just stand there and let me get a good look at her. Then I walked over and hugged her.

We knew at that moment where the rest of our lives were headed. After a few weeks of her coming here, or me going there, she quit her job and moved up here forever. We were married in September with all our children present and are living happily ever after.

Some stories do have a happy ending, but this story is just beginning.