A Love Story: Dating Again after 50 Years

Written by Jerry Galoonis P’63
Published on June 1, 2016

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JUNE (ISABELLE) HIGHTOWER P’63 and I were classmates for four years. At various times we dated, went to frat parties and, for many Sundays, went to church. Since I commuted and had a car, I was always asked if I wouldn’t mind driving her and a couple of the girls to Mass at St. Francis Church, which was 10 blocks away through a not-so-nice neighborhood. I always said yes because I liked being with her.

During the summers between semesters, I saw June in Massachusetts periodically when my family visited my brother stationed in the Air Force on Cape Cod. After graduation, June returned to work in Massachusetts, and I got drafted into the Army. I only saw her once during those two years. The next couple years I visited her maybe two times, but she seemed to consider me only a friend.

I married in 1969, and she had already married in 1968. We never made contact for 40-plus years. I got the 2011 college directory and noticed June had put her e-mail address in it. Curiosity made me e-mail her and ask, “How you doing?” She told me in general that she had three kids, had lived and worked in Michigan, and then moved to Camp Hill, Pennsylvania, where she was working for Rite Aid. I had already retired from Wyeth Labs in 1999 and moved to Weeki Wachee, Florida, from Paoli, Pennsylvania.

quoteMy wife passed away in May of 2012 after a long illness, and June’s husband passed away in 2015. In September, I got a phone call: “Hi, this is June, I have a pharmaceutical question.”

I said, “Really? Why? You’re a pharmacist.”

“Well,” she said, “you were smarter than me in pharmacy school.”

We discussed a concern she had on the medication that her daughter was taking during her pregnancy. She told me she was at her daughter’s in Plant City, Florida. I told her that was about an hour and a half from my house. So I asked her if she wanted to go to church on Sunday and have lunch and talk over old times.

We talked for hours; we probably could have had dinner if we didn’t leave when we did. I saw her at various times when she came down to see her daughter. (I think she came down to see me but who knows?) I even drove her to Hilton Head, South Carolina, to meet her son and his family.

I was on the 50-year reunion committee and suggested she go to it with me as it would be nice to be together and also see old friends. She agreed. Since then, it’s been steady dating for the past two-plus years. The relationship is a distance one, but we are retired, and I have family in Pennsylvania. When I visit them lately I seem to find more time to spend with June. She likewise visits me in Florida (especially in the winter; I wonder why).

I was always curious and had to ask: “You know I really loved you, but you really never returned the affection other than wanting to be good friends.”

June said: “My mother thought you were really a nice boy and very funny, but that I didn’t seem to want to get involved with you. I said, ‘Well, he’s Czechoslovakian and epileptic. I don’t want to marry him because any kids we have will possibly be epileptic or carry the gene.’”

I said, “You got to be kidding. First, I am not ‘Czech’; I’m Lithuanian, and I don’t have epilepsy. My mother was epileptic, not by birth, but she developed it after a rough childbirth with my brother.”

Well, it’s been a fantastic love relationship these past years. I love being with her when we are together and love hearing her voice when we are apart. I feel like a teenager in love. They say distance makes the heart grow fonder. It sure does for me.


Categories: The Bulletin, Alumni, Profiles, Proven Everywhere, Philadelphia College of Pharmacy, Department of Pharmacy Practice, Pharmacy

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