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EXCHANGE: Couple met years ago thru computer dating service

By CARA ANTHONY Belleville News-Democrat

FAIRVIEW HEIGHTS, Ill. -- A few friends knew their secret, but Charles and Rosie Fahrner never told their parents that a computer dating service brought them together in 1966.

Finding love wasn't as easy as swiping left or right back then. The couple had to fill out a long form with 50 questions or more. Then they mailed it to a company that had a computer in St. Louis.

Rosie hadn't considered doing such a thing, until her co-worker dared her to try it. She agreed, thinking that she would be matched up with her boss, who was single at the time.

"I could hardly afford it," Rosie said. "But I paid the money."

The fee was $25. Rosie received three notifications from potential suitors. Charles received only one.

It was Rosie, but their profiles weren't exactly the perfect match.

Rosie enjoyed dancing. Charles didn't. He was more of a sports guy. Rosie wasn't into sports back then. Their differences didn't stop there. Rosie grew up on a farm in Apple Creek, Missouri. Charles grew up in East St. Louis.

The list goes on.

Rosie thought their first date was planned for a Tuesday. Charles insisted he set a time for Wednesday. The mix-up is something they laugh about now. On their first date, which was on a Wednesday, Charles took her to the National Shrine of Our Lady the Snows. They drove around the grounds, then headed to The Jug in Belleville for dinner.

Fifty years later, the couple is still in love and happily married.

"We have a lot fun," Rosie said seated in the kitchen of their Fairview Heights home. "We've never had an argument."

Charles quickly chimed in.

"People won't believe that," he said, gently shaking his head. Both dressed in green, the couple pulled their chairs closer together as they reminisced about their digital romance.

"I had two other dates," Rosie said. "They were bummers, and then he called me."

The couple has dozens of the photos from dates, outings and family events through the years. Two images from their weekends at the Playboy Club in St. Louis are preserved in orange paper frames.

In mid 70s, Rosie gave Charles a membership to the club. He even had his own "Bunny" named Hannah, Rosie recalled. They always went as a couple to the club, inviting friends to go with them from time to time.

"We had so much fun there," Charles said.

Their adventures also took them to Minnesota, where they spent time fishing with frogs with their son, Chuck. For 32 years, they visited a cabin in Pine River, Minnesota.

Closer to home, they served as ushers together at The Fabulous Fox Theatre in St. Louis. They sang together as a couple at St. Albert the Great in Fairview Heights. They even bought two lawn mowers, so they could cut the grass together at home.

"She's the best thing that's ever happened to me in my life," Charles said. "She always takes care of me."

Rosie blushed.

"We've always said this was a match made in heaven," she said. "It was meant to be."

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