Sharon and John Grumblis, of Lima, Ohio, and Nancy and Don Kosa, of Millford, Conn., have been friends for decades.
The seeds of that friendship were planted when John and Don became Army buddies back in the early 1960s while assigned to a Signal Corps unit in Germany.
After the two men were discharged, they returned home, got married and carried on a long-distance friendship in which their wives participated, as well. Because of their busy lives and the distance between their homes, however, they never got together in person.
After a long-distance friendship lasting decades, penpals Don and Nancy Kosa of Millford, Conn., left, and Sharon and John Gramblis of Lima, Ohio, right, met Monday in Williamsport. Don Kosa and John Gramblis were Army buddies who had not seen each other since they were discharged from the service in the early 1960s. Their wives had never met in person. They met in Williamsport because of its location midway between their homes.
Until this week, that is.
The two veterans were reunited Monday, after almost 50 years, in Williamsport. It was the first time Sharon and Nancy ever met in person.
Both men enlisted in the Army in 1960 and were discharged in 1963. Sharon and John Grumblis were married in 1964, Nancy and Don Kosa, in 1967.
According to Sharon, the couples began exchanging greeting cards during the Christmas holiday.
"It was just once a year, at first," she said. "As time progressed, we started putting notes (in the cards), then the notes got longer and more frequent."
In recent years, John and Don had been communicating regularly via email, she said. However, the couples never even talked on the phone until about six months ago.
Nancy said she suggested meeting their friends and a plan was hatched to do so.
"I said, 'Don, you're always on the computer with John. We're retired, they're retired. Why don't we just meet them halfway?' " she said.
Sharon said she liked the idea.
"I said, 'Let's do it. You only go around once in this world,' " she said, adding, "We're healthy and we have the time. Who knows what tomorrow brings?"
Williamsport was chosen as a meeting place because it was somewhat midway between their homes, Sharon said.
Don said except for his hair, he hasn't changed all that much since his days in the military.
"My hair got very wavy," he said. "It waved 'good-bye.' "
The couples planned to stay in the city for three days. They returned to their respective homes Wednesday.
"This is one more thing I can cross off my bucket list," Don said.