Couple remarries in Vail, 49 years after they divorced
VAIL — The first time Frank Schoppet proposed to his wife Evelyn, he was in high school and had to ask permission from his mom. The second time, the two were well into their 80s and both had grown children of their own.
The Schoppets’ love story recently began another chapter when Frank Schoppet, 83, and Evelyn Schoppet, 84, got remarried in Avon in a small celebration on Oct. 4 — 49 years after they got divorced.
The couple lives in Bethaltl in southern Illinois, but their son, Mark Schoppet, is the controller and chief accounting officer for Vail Resorts and lives with his wife Andrea in Vail. When Frank and Evelyn announced they were going to get remarried and wanted to have a simple affair out of the limelight, Vail seemed like the perfect place.
“They both have come to Vail several times separately,” Mark said. “They’ve always enjoyed coming out and think it’s truly God’s country, so they were able to have a small ceremony with a small group of our friends.”
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Frank and Evelyn were high school sweethearts. She was the local festival queen and he was the captain of the school basketball team.
They got married in 1949, as soon as Frank graduated from high school. During the next decade, Frank fought in the Army in 1952 and 1953, and then he started a career as an accountant, and the couple had two sons, Joe and Mark.
But life slowly pulled the two apart — Frank was busy establishing his own CPA firm, and Evelyn felt he wasn’t spending time with the family.
“You get so busy working, and then you’re out all the time entertaining clients. We just drifted apart,” Evelyn said.
“That was my mistake,” Frank added.
“He realized that later on in time,” Evelyn said. “Everybody was shocked when we got divorced. However, we always remained good friends and never talked ill of the other person.”
They were divorced in 1966 and went on to live separate lives, although they always stayed in touch. They would see each other periodically at family functions and had ties through their kids and family. Frank got remarried in 1969 and Evelyn remarried in 1975. Her husband’s job took them out to Florida, but Frank and Evelyn still saw each other occasionally.
“You never forget your first love,” Evelyn said. “I loved my husband very much, but when I came home, I’d always be a little excited to see Frank. I guess a little bit of love remained in us.”
A second chance
In time, both were widowed — Frank’s wife died two years ago, and Evelyn’s husband died seven years ago. Their relationship was rekindled at a family gathering for their grandson. The family went to a concert, and then out to dinner.
“Frank and I weren’t even sitting with each other at dinner,” remembered Evelyn. “Afterward when we got in the car, Frank got in the backseat with me, and before I knew it, we were holding hands. He asked if I would mind going out once in a while for dinner and I said I’d be delighted.”
The romance was quick and natural, they said. Re-entering the dating pool after decades of being married can leave some people at a loss of what to do, but Evelyn said that she and Frank just felt at ease with each other. In fact, they finish each other’s thoughts just like a couple that has been married for years.
Within a year, the two talked about moving in together. They thought it would be best to get married if they were going to do that, and so they broke the news to their children.
“The children were just elated that we were going to get remarried,” Frank said.
Mark walked his mother down the aisle, a moment that was uniquely special for him. Evelyn held back tears recounting how Mark spoke at the wedding, telling the group that as a little boy he had prayed every night for his parents to get back together.
“Whatever the circumstances were 49 years ago, I think they just put that aside and whatever led up to that, they didn’t hold any bitterness toward each other,” Mark said. “I thought it was great, being in your 80s, to share whatever years they have left and care for each other.”
Frank and Evelyn, in newlywed fashion, do plan to take a honeymoon. They’ll enjoy a double vacation with Mark and his wife Andrea, who will be celebrating their 25th wedding anniversary in Hawaii next year.
“I’ve known them for 25 years and during that time I always felt they’d given each other forgiveness,” Andrea said. “I think it’s the sweetest story of reconciliation, forgiveness and hope.”
Assistant Managing Editor Melanie Wong can be reached at 970-748-2927 and at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow her on Twitter @mwongvail.