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Couple finds time to fall in love

Posted: August 8, 2011 1:55 a.m.
Updated: August 8, 2011 1:55 a.m.

Bobbie, left, and John Stephens and the grandfather clock that brought them together at their home in Newhall on Wednesday.

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It’s just another Santa Clarita Valley Wednesday in July, if you ignore the clouds huddled together, painting the sky an ominous gray.

Despite the gloomy weather, Bobbie and John Stephens ,of Newhall, ride their bikes to the cozy comfort of The Coffee House to split an apple fritter. It’s a weekly ritual with the couple.

They sit, holding hands across the table, and Bobbie Stephens’ eyes sparkle with love as she glances at her husband. It’s enough to make strangers ask, “How did you meet?“

The story isn’t typical.

In September 1994, John Stephens and his then-wife Jackie invited Bobbie and her then-husband Blake, along with some other couples from church, to their home for breakfast in order to get better acquainted.

But it wasn’t the food that caught Bobbie’s attention — it was a grandfather clock that John had made. It was decided within moments that John would make one for her.

In January 1995, Bobbie’s husband died. Soon after, in April, John Stephens lost his wife, as well. Desperate for distraction, he continuously asked Bobbie Stephens to order parts for her clock. Finally, in May, she did.

A cavalcade of parts were delivered to Bobbie Stephens’ home, and John Stephens had to retrieve them in order to begin the intricate process of clock-making.

The two sat down at the kitchen table and began discussing their deceased spouses — slowly building their connection around their mutual mourning and the creation of the clock.

“He reached over and held my hand. I looked at him and knew he was more than just my clock-maker,” Bobbie Stephens said.

“She’s very nice to hold hands with,” John Stephens replied.

As he continued piecing together the clock over a period of five months, John Stephens repeatedly invited her to his home to see the progress. As the clock was assembled, its hands crept along the face, inching the friendship forward until love struck.

In October, the clock was finished, but their relationship was only beginning to blossom into the promise of forever.

On Valentine’s Day 1997, John Stephens coincidentally earned a box of See’s chocolates for opening an account at his bank. He decided to take the treats to Bobbie Stephens.

A year later, the two married. Today, they have celebrated more than 13 years of happiness together.

The Stephens are reminded every day of their luck by the fortune that resides in a Plexiglass cube at their home.

It was from their third date, when John Stephens picked up Chinese takeout.

“I opened my fortune cookie, and the little paper said, ‘Stop searching for happiness. It’s right beside you,’” Bobbie Stephens recalled.

And that’s where it has stayed for all these years.

“I’m the most blessed lady in all the world,” Bobbie Stephens said, commenting on how handsome she still finds her husband.

“She’s the cute one,” John Stephens said with a smile. “I’m just along for the ride.”

And what a ride it’s been. Since their fateful meeting, the couple have traveled to places such as the British Isles and Yellowstone National Park. They’ve experienced the many joys that come with watching 10 grandchildren grow up and the luxury of retirement from their professions as a teacher (Bobbie Stephens) and marketing consultant (John Stephens).

These days, you can find them volunteering at the Henry Mayo Newhall Memorial Hospital gift shop, attending service at Valley Presbyterian Church, riding their bicycles around town and eating breakfast at local restaurants with family.

The clock John Stephen’s built for his friend and future wife simply opened the door to a greater gift: the gift of time. Time to love, time to learn, time to laugh and time to live.


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