High school sweethearts, now in their 90s, reunite after 73 years apart

High school sweethearts Joanne and Bill
Courtesy of Linda Blakkan

Cupid’s arrow struck high school sweethearts Joanne Blakkan and Bill Hassinger long ago. Unfortunately, as with many couples, circumstances seemed to close the book on their young love story.

Little did they know then that 73 years later, something called social media would reunite them and allow the pair to reconnect and pick up where they left off all those years ago.

The couple met on a Michigan school bus back in the 1940s, but 90-year-old Hassinger jokes it was the fact that the pretty girl had her own car that made her an even better catch.

“I wasn’t old enough to have a driver’s license, so I didn’t have a car,” he told News 8 Wood TV. “That’s what attracted me to her… she had a car.”

MORE: Man proposes to high school sweetheart 60 years later in viral video

Bill Hassinger and Joanne Blakkan at the 1949 prom.
Courtesy of Linda Blakkan

Blakkan, 92, reminded him of the fact that she was a majorette at the time, and that probably also got his attention.

The couple enjoyed their time together, attended their school’s 1949 prom, and then Blakkan graduated, two years ahead of her boyfriend.

“He took me to my senior prom, then I went off to Michigan State, and he was still back in high school,” she explained to News 8. “So, we kind of went our separate ways from then on.”

The years went by, and the sweethearts carved out wonderful lives separately. Both of them found new love and got married, and each of them had three children. Blakkan had a career in the medical field, while Hassinger served in the Korean War and then went to work as a member of the Michigan State Police, working his way up to Lieutenant Colonel.

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Courtesy of Linda Blakkan

Flash forward to fall 2022, when Blakkan started looking for missing classmates for an upcoming high school reunion. Joanne turned to her daughter Linda Blakkan to help her use social media to track down her classmates.

“While we were at it, I asked her the name of her high school boyfriend, knowing that he was not in her class,” Linda told Simplemost.

It didn’t take long for Linda to find Hassinger on the internet. She and her mother discovered his wife had died the year before, and he lived only about 80 miles from them. Joanne knew the pain of losing a spouse; her husband died in 1989, and she had been a widow for 33 years. So, she decided to drop him a note in the mail, saying it would be fun to hear from him after all this time.

“I forgot who she was,” Hassinger joked with News 8. “No, that’s not true… I thought, well that’s interesting, I’ll get together, so I called her and told her I’d be down.”

On Sept. 6, 2022, the pair met for lunch and both said their feelings for each other “just came right back.”

Joanne Blakkan and Bill Hassinger in 2024
Courtesy of Linda Blakkan

“After they got together the first time, I thought it was nice,” Linda said. “Maybe she would go to lunch with him once in a while, or be pen pals. But much to our surprise, things moved very quickly to where they are today. Seeing them so happy together brings joy into our families’ lives.”

The couple spends every weekend together and hopes to find a way to be together full time in the near future.

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About the Author
Marie Rossiter
Marie is a freelance writer and content creator with more than 20 years of experience in journalism. She lives in southwest Ohio with her husband and is almost a full-fledged empty nest mom of two daughters. She loves music, reading, word games, and Walt Disney World. Visit Scripps News to see more of Marie's work.

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