Concord newlyweds meet after 50 years

Concord newlyweds meet after 50 years

Concord newlyweds meet after 50 years
After a post on Nextdoor, Mike and Betsy Webb, left, met Lorrie and Dennis Howerton at 1401 (now renumbered from 1601) Willow Pass Road. Behind them was once the Concord Inn, where both couples held their wedding receptions on Sept. 15, 1973. (Charleen Earley photo)

CONCORD, CA (July 8, 2024) — Home to mostly rants about uninvited cats in backyards or slow restaurant service, the social media site Nextdoor actually helped two couples find each other from decades ago – within minutes.

Mike Webb’s May 7 post on Nextdoor was more of a “whatever happened to …” rather than a 50-year search for another couple who happened to be at the Concord Inn on Sept. 15, 1973.

Webb posted a photo of his bride Betsy and him standing in front of the Concord Inn, with the words “Happiness Betsy & Mike, Lorrie & Dennis” on the marquee behind them. Located at 1601 Willow Pass Road, the inn has since been replaced with a business high-rise.

His Nextdoor post read, “A little over 50 years ago my wife and I got married. We had our wedding reception at the old Concord Inn. We even have a picture out front, under the sign, with our names on it. I have always wondered what ever happened to the other couple. I know this is a very wildly weird thing, but does anyone know a couple ‘Lorrie & Dennis’ who were married around the 15th of Sep. 73?”

Minutes later, a wildly weird thing happened: The search ended.

“Yes. I’m the Lorrie of the Lorrie and Dennis sign, 50 years ago,” wrote Lorrie Howerton of Clayton.

Second time’s the charm

The Concord Inn was a popular site for weddings and receptions during the 1960s and ‘70s.

Betsy, retired from the state of California, was born in Berkeley. Her family moved to Pleasant Hill in 1949.

“My folks bought an old farmhouse that was once part of the Alexander Boss farm, early settlers in 1850,” she said. “Mike and I moved back to the house after my folks passed away.”

Mike was born and raised in and around Detroit, Mich., and is retired from 31 years in the computer industry. He also spent 7½ years in the U.S. Navy Submarine Service. The couple are parents to grown kids Molly and Andy.

Mike and Betsy met over wine – sort of.

“I moved into a bottom floor apartment at the Camelback apartments across from Diablo Valley College, the summer of 1972,” said Betsy. “I cooked myself a celebratory steak dinner and had a bottle of wine, but no corkscrew. I went to the upstairs apartment, knocked on the door and asked the guy (Mike) if I could borrow a corkscrew. He said no and closed the door.”

They didn’t meet again until May 17, 1973.

“We sat outside on the apartment steps, drank a little wine and talked until 4 a.m. in the morning,” Betsy recalled. “It was a long drive into work that day, but I remember telling workmates I had met this really great guy.”

Christmas kismet

Lorrie and Dennis, on the other hand, met through a family gathering.

“Dennis was traveling to Oregon and stopped in Concord to visit his brother in December 1972. His brother is married to my aunt,” said Lorrie, who was born in Vallejo and raised in Concord. “My mom and I stopped at their house to pick up my aunt to attend a baby shower and I was introduced to Dennis. It wasn’t until Christmas Day, we finally talked.”

Dennis was born and raised in Long Beach and moved to Fountain Valley after active duty in Vietnam in 1970.

They were married at Queen of All Saints and held their wedding reception, like the Webbs, at the Concord Inn. But the couples never met while clinking champagne glasses at their respective receptions.

“The first we heard about them was the photo on Nextdoor,” said Lorrie, a retired office manager. Husband Dennis is retired from VP of operations and marketing.

Happily ever after

According to Weber State University, “fewer than 5% of all marriages last 50 years.” The couples shared what’s kept them in that percentile.

“Mike and I met after both of us had gone through difficult relationships,” said Betsy. “Because of that, I realized things that were really important – consideration, kindness, selflessness, openness – in both directions. And a good sense of humor.”

Mike said the key to their long marriage is “love, respect for one another, humor and adventure.”

Lorrie and Dennis, parents to adult children Kyle and Kourtnie, said it’s all about “respect, communication and commitment.”

With more than 96 comments on Mike’s Nextdoor message, he’s happy to see such positive, heartfelt posts from complete strangers.

“It’s nice to find Lorrie and Dennis still in the area, and also so nice to have many congrats from folks on Nextdoor,” said Mike, age 80. “As I grow older, I find myself wondering about the many seemingly unrelated things that put this Midwestern boy in an apartment in Northern California, where he could meet this wonderful woman.”

As for the initial rejection from Mike, Betsy has a theory.

“In Mike’s defense, a corkscrew was probably the last thing on his mind,” she said. “He was working the night shift and I woke him up.”

Charleen Earley

Charleen “Charlie” Earley is a 26-year freelance writer for Bay Area publications and beyond. She teaches journalism mass media communication classes at Diablo Valley College and San Ramon Campus. She’s also a stand-up comic, a mom, “Grammy” to three grandchildren and two rescue tuxedo cat sisters.