FAIRVIEW, W.Va. (AP) — It may have taken high school sweethearts Greg Foley and Ginger Tennant nearly four decades to find each other again, but last Saturday their happily ever after officially began.

Greg and Ginger dated in the early 1980s when both were students at the recently-constructed North Marion High School. He was a sophomore, she a freshman. So smitten were they, that Greg would walk several miles from his parents’ home in Fairview to Ginger’s home in Plum Run, near Mannington, just to spend a few hours together.

“When I met Greg in high school, I wanted to marry him back then even though we were still kids,” she said. “There was just something about him I loved.”

Their budding romance, though, was cut short — suddenly and without explanation — when Ginger didn’t show up for school one day. She wasn’t in school the next day, either. Or the day after that. She, in fact, never returned to North Marion. She left her Plum Run home and Greg never knew why.

“I didn’t know what had happened. I just knew one day she didn’t show up. I figured she was sick or something, but she never came back. I didn’t know what had happened. It was like that for many years,” Greg said.

Ginger today describes that period in her life as a private and trying time, as she was placed in foster care with another family. She resumed her studies at Morgantown High School, but she never reconnected with Greg.

“Our romance lasted about eight months, until I got taken away and put into foster care,” Ginger said. “There were certain circumstances that had taken place. That’s about all I want to say. Greg had no idea where I’d gone. He came to school one day and I simply wasn’t there.”

Life went on.

After high school, Greg joined the U.S. Air Force and, after his military service, moved to Virginia and began working there. He met and married another woman and they had two children. They eventually divorced. In his early 40s, he moved back to Fairview.

Ginger’s life followed a similar course. Shortly after graduating high school, she, too, married someone else and they had three children together. After 22 years of marriage, they, too, divorced.

In 2018, Greg’s mother passed away and he returned to Marion County for her funeral. During the wake, he struck up a conversation with an attendee he’d known long ago — Ginger’s sister, Lydia Robinson The two made small talk and exchanged phone numbers. Robinson promised to give Greg’s number to Ginger, which she did.

“I waited about a month before I texted him, afraid he wouldn’t want to talk to me,” Ginger said. “In January of 2019, I texted him for the first time and it took off from there. We began talking and texting just about every day.”

Two months into their rejuvenated friendship, Greg and Ginger met in person for the first time since their high school romance. They had dinner at her daughter’s home. This time, Greg drove.

“I fell in love with him all over again. I got butterflies in my stomach. It was like he was the same boyfriend I had in high school,” Ginger said.

“I felt the same way,” Greg said.

But about a month into their rekindled romance, fate intervened again. This time, it was Greg who needed to leave. He had moved back to Virginia in order to take care of one of his children. The two continued to talk and text every day, but he needed to remain living there.

“I cried when he left. I remember thinking we wouldn’t last,” Ginger said. “I thought I was losing him again, but I was determined to keep our communication line open and did just that.”

As the months passed, Ginger said she couldn’t tolerate living apart. On December 12, 2019, “I ended up packing up and moving down there,” she said.

Two months later, she popped the question. Yes, she proposed to him.

“I talked with his daughters and got their permission first,” Ginger said. “I ended up asking him. I was scared to death to ask him because I was afraid he’d say no, but he didn’t. But when I asked him if he’d marry me, he said, ‘Yes, of course.’”

Thirty days later, COVID-19 took over the world. The couple’s scheduled wedding date of July 11, 2020 was postponed until Dec. 5.

Bernetta Kolb, Greg Foley’s sister, served as the wedding officiant. She had become ordained specifically to perform their ceremony.

“It was an honor to preside at their wedding. I’m so stoked to have done this for them,” she said. “It’s like it was meant to be. I think they each had to go through their lives for a while and learn some life lessons and grow. And now it’s the perfect time. It’s awesome. They both deserve happiness so much. I love them dearly.”

Robinson served as maid of honor. She remembers the two together in high school and said she’s happy this love story has the ending it deserves.

“I’m so excited for them. It’s been a long time coming. When Ginger first met Greg, she wanted to marry him then. Then they got separated,” Robinson said. “But now they’re back together 38 years later and I’m ecstatic for them. They’re a perfect couple who are beautiful together. Everything has turned out wonderfully.”

Greg’s best man was Andy Kolb. He’s now also Greg’s brother-in-law.

“Their story gives me chills talking about it. Their love for each other is natural,” Kolb said. “They’re made for each other. I don’t know why it didn’t work out in high school, but it’s going to work out now.”

The bride was given in marriage by Luke Estle, Ginger’s 11-year-old grandson, who escorted her to a makeshift altar inside the Fairview Volunteer Fire Department. Afterwards, guests enjoyed a catered reception.

“It’s been a long haul, but we finally did it,” said Greg Foley. “It’s been a great journey, but it’s really just beginning.”

The couple will continue to reside in Fauquier County, Virginia.

“I’m in heaven right now. I’m beside myself,” said the newly-minted Ginger Foley. “I’m the happiest woman in the world because I’ve married my sweetheart. There are no words to explain what I’m feeling. I’ve married my everything.”