She's from Wisconsin, and he's from California, but Jaye and Gary Welch met in a place far from both states.
Gary was a 22-year-old Air Force lieutenant stationed at a base in Okinawa, Japan, when he met Jaye back in 1963.
Jaye was 17, and attending high school on the same base. Her parents had died years before, so she was living with her older sister and brother-in-law, an Air Force officer who worked with Gary.
Gary and Jaye, who now live in Bellevue, met for the first time during a party at her sister's house, and they exchanged a quick hello.
He thought she was beautiful, and Jaye thought he was handsome.
But because he was five years older, and Jaye was still in high school, it just wouldn't have worked for them to start dating then.
They bumped into each other a few other times on base, and Jaye developed a bit of a crush on Gary.
Not only did Gary think Jaye was pretty, but he also liked her easy-going personality and her height — he's 6-foot-2 and she's 5-foot-11.
After graduating from high school in 1964, Jaye left Japan and returned to the United States to enroll in nursing school in Milwaukee.
Both figured they'd never see each other again.
But one day during her second year of nursing school, Jaye was sitting her dorm room feeling lonely. She thought about that young Air Force officer she met in Japan and decided to write him a letter.
Gary hadn't forgotten about Jaye and when he received the letter he instantly recognized the name on the return address. He held up the letter in his office on base and told his co-workers, “I'm going to marry this girl.”
The two of them began exchanging letters, sharing about their lives and their families.
Gary was reassigned from Japan to a base in Maryland in 1965 and visited Jaye in Milwaukee. They continued writing letters, and during another visit he proposed.
They married Aug. 19, 1966, in Newport News, Va.
The couple moved around for Gary's Air Force career, living in such places as California and England. Gary also spent a year in Vietnam in the early 1970s.
He was assigned to Offutt Air Force Base in 1978, and they've been in the Omaha area ever since. They have one daughter and this summer celebrated their 47th wedding anniversary.
Gary says will never forget that first letter Jaye wrote to him more than five decades ago, the one that gave them a second chance.
“It changed history,'' he said.