Rekindled Romance

updated 04/07/2003 AT 01:00 AM EDT

originally published 04/07/2003 AT 01:00 AM EDT

Katie Hennelly and Shane Sullivan
Cast as literature's greatest lovers in grade school, they are suddenly not acting anymore

They first made eyes at each other way back in the third grade. "There was a lot of poking and teasing," says Shane. "That was our way of flirting." So perfect was their puppy love they were cast as Romeo and Juliet in a fifth-grade play at their Sacramento school. But soon their innocent romance soured, and "we weren't even speaking," says Katie. "The way you showed you liked someone back then was by disliking them."

They went to different high schools and lost track of each other. Years passed, careers began, his in sales at a San Francisco Internet firm, hers in Sacramento as a project manager. Then, in 2001, Katie, now 27, thought she saw him in a restaurant; the next day, she e-mailed every Shane Sullivan on Hotmail. The right one responded, and they didn't miss a beat: Shane was soon sending flowers addressed to "my Juliet."

Six months later, Shane blindfolded Katie and led her to their old grade school. On the stage where they once played Shakespeare's doomed lovers, he gave her a diamond engagement ring. Now there is no poking or teasing, just "a deep, deep love," says Shane, 28. And when they finally wed in May, a classic story will take its sweetest twist. "I believe in fate," says Katie. "We are meant to be together."

Bob and Ruth Goodwin
In an era of unrest, their love seemed doomed. But the bond was stronger than they knew

They were crazy for each other, but sometimes crazy isn't enough. Bob and Ruth fell in love at Oral Roberts University in Tulsa, Okla., where they were students during the late '60s, a time of civil rights strife. "My father said, 'Isn't he black?' and I said, 'Well, he's kind of chocolate-colored,' " says Ruth, now 53. "He said, 'Someone's going to shoot you. Someone's going to shoot Bob.' "

Her father made her promise not see Bob again, but she did, secretly, for three years. "There was a lot of intrigue," says Bob, 54. "We couldn't go out in public together." When he told his dad he wanted to marry Ruth, "he said, 'You're too young. Case closed.' "

Intent on becoming a minister, Bob "just gave up on us," recalls Ruth, now a business owner. "Something in me died." She married and had a daughter but separated in 1998 and divorced the next year; Bob also married and divorced in 1999 (he's now CEO of a nonprofit group). That's when Josie Dittrich, a friend who used to ferry messages between the lovers in college, stepped in. "I sensed an emptiness in them," says Dittrich, who gave Bob Ruth's number. And when Ruth saw Bob again, "I felt the lights come back on."

They got married in 2000, and this time no one objected. "We don't worry about what we lost," says Bob. "We're thankful for what we have left."

Mark and Robin Nunez
Too shy as teens to date, they finally connect

She was the pretty girl from eight houses down; he was too nervous to make his move. "We were at that goofy age," says Mark, one grade ahead of Robin at California's Fullerton High School. After spending a year in Hawaii in 1976, he vowed to finally act on his crush, but by then Robin had moved away. "And that," he says, "was that."

Only it wasn't. Mark, 43, used a Web site that finds old classmates in his job as a fraud investigator, and one day in 2000, typed in Robin's name. "Lo and behold, there it was," he says. "My heart skipped a beat." Both divorced, they exchanged e-mails and made a date for lunch. "I was so nervous I only ordered a Coke," says Robin, 42. Now they plan to marry in August. The pretty girl from eight houses down, says Mark, "is even more beautiful than before."

Jane Gavin and Bill Campbell
A chance meeting in a bar helps a guy smitten in high school finally click with his dream girl

The cute guy at the bar caught Jane Gavin's eye. He noticed her too, but for a different reason. "I instantly recognized her as Jane," says Bill Campbell of the evening in July 1997 when, out with friends on Manhattan's Upper West Side, he spotted the girl he'd taken to his high school homecoming dance 14 years earlier. Gavin, having after-dinner drinks with her parents, didn't recognize him at all when he introduced himself. But she was interested.

And so she told him she was listed. He looked her up and called. On their second date they "couldn't stop smooching," says Campbell, 36, briefly married in the mid-'90s. "It was a dream come true." By their fourth date, says Gavin, 36, an executive at a fragrance company, "we had become inseparable."

Before cutting the cake at their July 1999 wedding, Campbell, a managing director at Sony and aspiring songwriter, surprised his bride by singing a tune he had written about their romance, "Somewhere, A Memory Lost." These days the couple arc-making plenty of new memories at home in Irvington, N.Y., with twins Liam Donald and Gavin Edwards, born Feb. 3. "How strange is it that they would know each other when they were younger, meet again and fall in love?" muses Campbell's mother, Toppy. "It's as if they were made for each other."

Amy Garcia and Andy Phillips
Childhood pals progress from playing house to taking spouse

"It's really an arranged marriage," jokes Amy Garcia of her upcoming nuptials to Andy Phillips. "A marriage arranged in the womb."

Garcia exaggerates, but not by much. Back in Allen town, Pa., the couple's mothers bonded during Lamaze classes while pregnant with their older siblings. Once Amy and Andy arrived, the Garcia and Phillips families got together frequently for play dates and barbecues. But things changed after Phillips's mom died in 1983. "We just grew apart," he says. "Amy was literally dating the guys who were beating me up in gym class."

After his father remarried and moved, it would be 15 years before Andy, 28, and Amy, 27, met again, in June 1999—after their parents reconnected. Both were single and living in the New York City area. (Garcia was working as a dance instructor, Phillips a graphic designer.) "The whole date I kept thinking, 'She's with me.' I was proud," remembers Phillips. "I left thinking, 'I want to spend more time with her.' "

And so he will—the couple will marry in Allentown on May 17. As for all their years apart, there are no regrets. "We both got to date other people and figure out who we wanted to be with," says Phillips. "And we both came to the same conclusion."

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