Lifestyle & Human Interest

After Wife Dies of Cancer, Devastated Man Finds Love Again with High School Sweetheart


Steve Downey remembers the first moment he laid eyes on the girl he’d fall in love with. The year was 1971 and Downey was 16 years old.

“I remember seeing this very cute young woman across the room,” Downey told NPR in an interview. “In those days she had very curly blonde hair.”

Both he and the curly haired blonde, Terry Farley, were attending a Catholic youth conference, and they started talking. They clicked.

Downey’s all-boy school held dances every month, so he eventually invited Farley.

“I had never been on a date before so he was, per my father, required to come to the door and to meet my father,” Farley said. “My family fell in love with him.”

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Farley, 14 at the time, fell for Downey. She told TODAY that he was “the cutest thing I ever saw.”

“He was my first love, the first boy I ever kissed, the first boy I ever held hands with and he was hard to forget,” she explained.

The two were a couple, but as life progressed, they faced an obstacle many young couples face: college. They drifted apart and soon had their own separate lives and families.

In 2009, Downey lost his wife after she had battled cancer for 5 years.

“She was in remission for about a year or so, and the cancer came back,” he said. “She passed away in August of 2009, the day before my birthday.”

Unbeknownst to him, Farley was going through a divorce at about the same time. Neither of them were looking for a new partner.

“I wasn’t looking for another relationship. I guess I was in my mid-50s at that time, and I just assumed that I was just moving into a different phase, one where I would be by myself,” Downey said. “I was alone, but I was OK with that.”

Three years later, Downey was using LinkedIn and noticed a familiar name on his notifications. A “Theresa Farley” had looked at his page, his profile informed him, so he decided to reach out.

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It was a simple message, not requiring a response: “Hey Terry,” he wrote, “this is the Steve Downey you used to know.”

According to NPR, it took her around a month to respond, and at first, Downey thought she must not want to reconnect — but then he got a message.

“Well … a few weeks later, she writes back with her long life story,” Downey said. “And I open up the email and I read it, and in the midst of all of her explanation she reveals that she has been divorced.”

“And I remember reading that line and calling up my best friend saying, ‘Guess what? She’s single.'”

It wasn’t long before phone calls and emails weren’t enough, and the two had to meet in person. The sparks were still there.

“I didn’t see anything except my first love, my first crush,” Farley said. “In my eyes, he was exactly the same person. It felt like we were picking up where we left off.”

The two hit it off for the second time, but this time, they sealed the deal with a ring. The two were married 44 years after they first met, in the spring of 2015.

The two are now happy together, and as Downey said, “I am just so grateful to have had this opportunity to be with this person again.”

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