DuBOIS — Karen and Wayne Robl of Brookville were shocked to find out that their 42-year love story stole the hearts of the Ultimate DuBois Area Valentine’s Day Contest judges.
The couple, who met in 1978 at a gas station, each had three children of their own, and a blended family was quickly created.
Karen, 76, who worked as a floral designer throughout her life, recalled listening to Wayne, 73, on CB radio, since he was a truck driver and would communicate with other drivers on the road. He connected with her children right away, and the couple was married a year later.
“He said, ‘I think I’m in love’ the first time we met,” Karen Robl said.
“I was right,” Wayne Robl said.
The first few years they were married, the couple sang in a band called “Leather Street.” Wayne Robl is now in the “Shades of Harmony” quartet and a local chorus.
The contest was hosted by six DuBois-area businesses that each contributed a prize, including Laurel Cosmetic and Plastic Surgery, Day Spa DuBois, Brady Street Florist, Joelle Watt Studios, Comfort Suites in DuBois, Luigi’s Ristorante, Guzzo’s and Co. and Ramhorn Distillery.
Robin Gill, Karen’s daughter who has been an instructor at Penn State DuBois for 23 years, submitted the contest letter. When she called to tell them the great news, they thought she had won the lottery because she was so excited, Karen Robl said.
The couple has seen their fair share of hardships, which made their love even stronger. Each has undergone a heart bypass surgery, and Karen Robl suffered a stroke, which left her in the hospital for 73 days.
“When you get married, you become one,” Wayne Robl said. “We have always taken care of each other.”
Valentine’s Day is also Wayne Robl’s birthday. Every year, he has to have a cherry pie, and the couple goes out to dinner, Karen Robl said.
Winning this contest is “like a fantasy” — something on their bucket list, Karen Robl said. They have never had a massage, professional pictures taken or shopped at Guzzo’s and Co. in DuBois. The Robls never even went on a honeymoon, and spent just $60 on their church wedding at Christmas time.
Their Valentine’s Day exchange always includes flowers, Karen Robl said, and a card with a special signature. When Karen Robl says, “I love you,” Wayne Robl responds, “Plus Two.” The cards are always signed “I love you forever, plus two.”
“She doesn’t realize how much she has done for me,” Wayne Robl said with tears in his eyes. “I wouldn’t be who I am without her.”
When it comes to love, Wayne and Karen say it’s all about respect, and learning to give and not take. Also, they say, “Never go to bed mad.”
“My family calls him a diamond in the rough,” Karen Robl said. “I wouldn’t change a thing — he is everything I could ever want.”