When you’re young, it’s easy to believe in a classic story of love - boy meets girl, they get married at a young age, have a few children, and live happily ever after. While this is a wonderful ideal, most people know that love has its own agenda. Most importantly, love isn’t only for the young.
Clifford Peterson and Carol Ryan prove that love isn’t limited to once in a lifetime. Read on to learn about an unlikely journey that led them down the aisle in their late 70s.
Our story starts on the leafy, picturesque campus of Ramapo College in 1971. Carol Ryan was a married mother of three when she enrolled as a freshman at the age of 28. The four years she spent at Ramapo were incredibly impactful. As she went on to have a professional career in New York City working in international affairs, she always remembered her time at school very fondly.
Dr. Clifford Peterson worked at Ramapo College as a professor of international politics and chairman of its international studies program. Although he retired in 2012, in April of 2019 he worked on a committee to help Ramapo College plan its 50th anniversary celebration. Surveys sent out to students of Ramapo’s class of 1975 - its very first group of graduates - of which Carol Ryan was a part of. Her answers to this survey fatefully ended up in the hands of Dr. Peterson, who was in charge of compiling the responses.
The Love Story
Dr. Peterson was instantly captivated by Ms. Ryan’s responses. She painted a beautiful portrait of her time at beloved Ramapo, where she recalled “attending a class, outside on a pretty spring day, sitting on the grass, under the sweeping lilac bushes.” He knew many of the college’s premier graduating class personally, but had never crossed paths with Ms. Ryan until that survey fell in his lap.
Incredibly impressed, he reached out to her in a phone call. Although the call started with him inviting her to meet other members of the 50th anniversary celebration committee, it ended with him asking her out for a date. By 2019, Dr. Peterson was a widower who had enjoyed a 52-year marriage. Ms. Ryan had been married for 25-years before becoming a widow. She subsequently enjoyed another 25-year relationship that also ended in her partner’s death.
After these long-term relationships, Ms. Ryan had sworn off dating altogether. But there was something about Dr. Peterson’s invitation that immediately put her at ease. During their first date, they both realized that they had been waiting to meet each other their whole lives. They immediately began dating and got engaged only three months later.
On May 30th, 2020, the couple officially tied the knot at Louis Engel Waterfront Park in Ossining, New York. Like most 2020 weddings, this one was impacted by the global pandemic. They had originally planned on a wedding with 150 guests in attendance. Instead, they opted for a 5 person wedding. Close friends and family members watched via Zoom.
Although the forecast originally called for rain, the couple was greeted only by clear blue skies and sunshine as they said their vows along the shores of the Hudson River. The bride was the picture of classic elegance, and wore a vintage-inspired ivory chiffon gown by Nataya that featured ethereal layers, floral accents, and a 1920’s silhouette. It perfectly complimented her groom, who wore a top hat and tails.
These two prove that you’re never too old to experience the thrill and excitement of falling head-over-heels in love. According to the bride, their relationship “just gets better every day.”
photo credits Margaret Fox