Source: Sherman Publications

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Reunited and it feels so good

by Lance Farrell

May 09, 2012

Oxford residents Kathy Smith and James Lantz are finally together after 46 years. Photo by Lance Farrell
Sometimes, it seems that love is an illusion, that your heart's desire will never be met. But if you ask Kathy Smith and James Lantz, both of Oxford, they'll tell you a much different story.

Smith and Lantz first met back in 1965, just after Jim graduated from high school. He became smitten with the young lass over the summer, seeing her out at dances at Red Collier's bowling alley and various parties in the county.

When school began in the fall of 1965, Lantz was working at Pontiac motors in the evening. It was then, according to Smith, that "Lantz would park in front of the high school every day . . . and follow me right to my door." With a grin, Lantz said he "just wanted to make sure she got home all right."

At first, Ms. Smith wasn't interested in the forward young man, but as the fall semester wore on, she began to succumb to his charm and persistence. They had their first date in September of 1965 and were soon on

their way to nuptial bliss. They were engaged by March 1966.

But young Lantz was given orders to a "destination classified" and left to fight in Vietnam in late 1966. The ill-fated lovers never saw their day in the chapel. It seemed that life had other plans for the two.

In the subsequent years, both Smith and Lantz would marry and form their own families. Smith didn't know what became of Lantz, and "gave up hope" of marrying her first love. She stayed in the area, met a local boy, and with him started a family of three children.

Lantz went to Vietnam and eventually served 23 years in the military, before moving to Arizona for a 21 year stint. After his previous spouse and mother-in-law passed away, Lantz decided it was time to "go home" to Michigan.

Through the modern-day matchmaker known as Facebook, the pair found one another after nearly 45 years, finally reconnecting in late 2011,. "When he came back into my life, Ms. Smith said, "I knew it was what I wanted." "The more I wrote to him, I would get butterfly feelings, and my heart would race, and I knew."

Lantz was eager to meet up with his lost sweetheart, but confesses that he was a bit worried because of the way they parted back in 1966. He figured he would "want to get (his) helmet and flak jacket --but she surprised me!" Smith admits "she never stopped loving him" over the years.

A few mouse-clicks and emails later and the long-lost but now-found pair were right back where they left off in 1966.

Kathy Smith and James Lantz, first betrothed in March of 1966, and then separated by the vicissitudes of life, will finally wed at 5:00 p.m. on June 9 at the American Legion. Smith's daughter will be the maid-of-honor

So what is love? When should a lover let a dream go?

Smith and Lantz have no easy answers. Ms. Smith said, "my mother once told me: 'if it's meant to be, it will be.

It may not be today, it may not be tomorrow, it may be 10 years, it may be 50' looks like she wasn't too far off, huh?