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Panther Valley grads reconnect, marry 50 years later

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    Diane and David Novak met in high school and married 50 years later. CONTRIBUTED PHOTO
Published December 03. 2018 11:49AM


When Diane Bartel and David Novak met in junior high school, they would never have guessed that 50 years later they would get married.

The two were casual acquaintances in 1968 at Panther Valley High School, where they shared a few classes and a love of music. Diane played guitar in a rock ’n’ roll band. David played drums in another.

“Diane dated a good friend of mine in school,” said David, “and I remember thinking often, ‘Gee, my buddy has a pretty girlfriend.’ I myself dated very little. My focus was strictly on my drums. I drummed for several bands in the area. In my junior high and high school years.

“Diane played guitar with an all girl group. Actually, the most we really saw of each other back then was watching each other’s bands perform at functions such as the dances sponsored by the Lansford Pool or Lansford Youth Center.”

After graduation, they went their separate ways.

Diane attended Bethlehem Business School and lived in the Lehigh Valley.

“Coupled with the ‘day jobs,’ I continued to make music professionally over the years, finally stopping in 1985.”

David entered the Navy and served for just over 21 years.

“I was a 1st Class Parachute Rigger, and my first ship was USS Midway and my last ship was USS Dwight D. Eisenhower.”

They met and married other people. Diane divorced earlier this year. David was widowed in 2010.

David and Diane reconnected on Facebook in 2013, after she sent him a friend request.

“I was, as many people do, simply searching out old friends and classmates,” Diane said. “I was taken by many of the things he posted. I was drawn by the humor in many of his postings, and touched by the apparent heartbreak he felt in the years following the death of his wife. I just wanted to get to know him.”

David said when he received Diane’s friend request, he wasn’t sure who she was until he saw a picture of her on stage with her guitar.

“I thought it was nice to get in touch with someone from ‘back home,’ as I always call it. This was about three years after my wife died,” said David. “We ‘talked’ about everything, from mutual friends to the few classes we attended together to music and family. Over the years these conversations began to get more and more personal. We shared good times, and we shared heartaches, and finally realized that there were ‘feelings’ developing.”

At the time they began their online relationship, David was living in Virginia Beach. Diane was living near Houston, Texas.

“We still have family in Nesquehoning, and both her and my parents have their final resting places in SS. Cyril and Methodius Cemetery there. I would make occasional trips to Cinnaminson, New Jersey, where my late wife is laid to rest ... then would drive to Nesquehoning to visit and pay respects to my parents. Diane’s scheduled trip to visit family simply coincided with mine at that time, and we decided to meet and talk over coffee in Lehighton.”

David said seeing Diane for the first time in 47 years was “a wonderful moment.”

“I was overcome by a deep realization that this relationship was meant to be, that feeling has not left me.”

Diane said she was elated.

“After the years of corresponding online and via email, looking at all of his pictures on Facebook, I was so very happy to see him at last!”

In September, over dinner and drinks in their favorite Mexican restaurant, David proposed. They were married in a simple, civil ceremony at the Court House in Virginia Beach, Virginia, on Nov. 1.

While they don’t play music together, they do have a special song.

“It would have to be ‘In My Life’ by The Beatles,” said David. “There are certain phrases and allusions therein that are special to the both of us.”


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