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How 2 high school sweethearts found love again 44 years later

When they tied the knot in 2015, it was a wedding over four decades in the making.
/ Source: TODAY

Terry Farley hadn't seen her high school boyfriend in three decades when one day Steve Downey's photo popped up while she was on LinkedIn.

It brought her back to the time when the two first met in 1971 at a Catholic youth organization conference in Washington, D.C., when Downey was 16 and Farley was 14.

"I just thought he was the cutest thing I ever saw,'' Farley said Thursday as part of the Lost & Found series on the 3rd hour of TODAY.

"We were very innocent. When we held hands, it felt very dicey."

The two dated throughout high school before losing touch in 1980 after they went off to separate colleges.

Both went on to marry other people. But in 2009, Downey's wife died of cancer, right around the same time Farley was going through a painful divorce.

Steve Downey was attending an all-boys Catholic school when he first met Terry Farley at a youth conference in Washington, D.C.Courtesy of Steve Downey

"After my wife, Kathy, passed away, I didn't really have any interest in dating,'' Downey said. "I thought that part of my life was over. And after a while, I became OK with that."

Farley was 14 when she first met Downey and became his high school girlfriend. Courtesy of Terry Farley

"I had one blind date, and it was a disaster,'' Farley said.

Farley wrote this sweet note to Downey in his high school yearbook. Courtesy of Terry Farley

When Downey's photo popped up on LinkedIn in 2012, Farley couldn't help but smile. However, she was hesitant to contact him.

"I did not message him because ... I didn't want to pop into his life,'' Farley said. "So I just sort of looked at the picture and reminisced a little."

Finding each other on LinkedIn led to Farley and Downey getting married in 2015. Aaron Benjamin

About a month later, Downey was on LinkedIn and looking at the section that tells you who has been looking at your profile when he saw Farley's name.

"I just felt motivated to send her a message,'' he said. "I just said, 'Hey, Terry, this is the Steve Downey you used to know.'"

"I get Steve's message, and I was like, 'Oh, my goodness,''' Farley said.

The couple had found one another again after decades apart. Phone calls and emails turned into an invitation from Farley, 62, for Downey, 64, to come visit at her home in Tallahassee, Florida, according to NPR.

"When I saw Steve at the airport, I didn't see the gray hair,'' Farley said. "I didn't see anything except my first love, my first crush. In my eyes, he was exactly the same person. It felt like we were picking up where we left off."

The high school sweethearts ended up getting married in 2015, more than four decades after they first met. Aaron Benjamin

That meeting began a long-distance relationship until Downey decided to move to Tallahassee.

It led to them eventually getting married in 2015, a joyous day that came 44 years after they first met.

"I am just so grateful to have had this opportunity to be with this person again,'' Downey said.

"He has made my life so rich,'' Farley said. "I can't imagine it without him."