Spark reignites and once-engaged couple marries after 60 years apart
Ed Sneckenberger just wanted to say “sorry” to Priscilla (Troxell) Matheny. She didn’t want anything to do with him.
But love won out and 60 years after they were first engaged, the two reconnected, the spark reignited and they were married Dec. 7 in St. Mark’s Lutheran Church, Hagerstown, by the Rev. Ron Schlak.
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“It’s a joy,” said Ed, 85, who grew up on a farm just south of Greencastle, and reunited with Priscilla, 83, of Hagerstown at Easter time.
What’s happened over the past 60-plus years?
When they were young, Priscilla went to St. John’s Lutheran Church in Hagerstown and Ed, who calls himself a “little farm boy,” went to St. Mark’s Lutheran Church, also in Hagerstown.
They met through youth group and other church activities and think they dated for 3 1/2 to 4 years, but aren’t exactly sure. Their engagement was announced in the newspaper in September 1962.
Their memories of 60 years ago are “not real clear on a lot of things,” said Priscilla, a 1957 graduate of Hagerstown High School.
After graduating from Greencastle High School in 1955, Ed worked for local businesses including Landis Tool and Jamison Door, could see he wanted to be an engineer and started attending Hagerstown Junior College, now Hagerstown Community College, in the evenings.
He graduated from HJC in 1962, got an opportunity to attend West Virginia University, moved to Morgantown and “left a lady in Hagerstown … I got an education without Priscilla.”
He earned bachelor’s and master’s degrees and his Ph.D. in mechanical engineering at WVU, where he taught for 36 years while spending summers on “beautiful opportunities” at places like NASA, IBM and the Environmental Protection Agency.
Ed was married to the former Scottie Hansbrough, also originally from Hagerstown, for 53 years until her death in October 2021.
“I love those Hagerstown women,” said Ed, who has three children and five grandchildren. “They’re the best in my life. I don’t look anywhere else.”
Priscilla was widowed after 23 years of marriage to Wally Matheny. She has four children, four grandchildren and seven great-grandchildren.
She did secretarial and bookkeeping work part time during her marriage and full time after her husband’s death, ending her working days at the federal Hagerstown Telework Center.
What led up to their Easter reunion?
“After Scottie passed away, I thought about a lady I might have caused some pain 60 years before,” Ed said. “I had to work hard to find her.”
Once again, it was church that brought them together. He knew she was a Lutheran and saw positive responses from Priscilla Matheny on the daily inspirational Facebook posts for St. Mark’s, his old church.
“I could see this lady was so genuinely caring, it made me want to connect and say, ‘sorry,’” he said.
He tried to friend her on Facebook. She deleted him.
He reached out through Messenger. She didn’t answer.
Just before Easter on Maundy Thursday, Ed asked the secretary of St. Mark’s to call Priscilla on his behalf.
She responded, “Tell him I don’t want to see him.”
He sent more meaningful messages, such as “You’re my heart’s desire.”
With the encouragement of a daughter and daughter-in-law, she finally responded on Good Friday.
“I think we need to meet for coffee and conversation,” Priscilla recalled, setting up a meeting at 11 Saturday morning at Panera Bread in Hagerstown. “I need to get to the bottom of what’s going on.”
They talked for two hours and he asked for her phone number and address, which she provided.
“I don’t know why, I thought I was never seeing him again,” Priscilla said.
After the Easter Sunday service at St. Mark’s, he called and said he was on her street. She let him in and they talked through the afternoon.
“From that day on, the rest is history,” Priscilla said.
“That young romance turned into a pretty hot flame,” Ed said.
“We still had some spark, but I didn’t plan to get married again and was not leaving Hagerstown,” she said.
It took some convincing and she did get married again, but didn’t move. Carload by carload, Ed has relocated from Morgantown to her home in Hagerstown.
Looking back, he feels like the inspirational message from the church Facebook page on Jan. 1, 2022, was meant just for him — “expect an unexpected miracle.”
What do they love about one another?
“The reconnection has so much joy and so much pleasure,” Ed said.
“I love her whole life,” he said, explaining Priscilla lost her husband, but stayed devoted and grew her “lovely, healthy family.”
“He’s a good Christian man. He’s a kind and caring person anyone would love,” Priscilla said. “I loved him before for the same reasons.”
“She’s in Hagerstown and it’s a joy to be back home,” Ed said.
They have a lot of fun together and especially enjoyed the August Old Home Week celebration in Greencastle. Ed’s always returned for the triennial event, but it was Priscilla’s first experience and they did almost everything.
They read Ben Thomas Jr.’s Mayor’s Report in the Echo Pilot and made it a point to wait for him after the Old Home Week pageant to share the news of their engagement, which he called “a wonderful love story” in the next column.
Another highlight Priscilla mentioned was going to Washington County Playhouse with the HCC alumni group.
For their honeymoon, they traveled to Wheeling, W.Va., for the 6-mile Festival of Lights in Oglebay Park.
At a restaurant, Ed said, the Grinch tried to steal his bride with a candy cane.
“I took the candy cane and gave it to my husband,” Priscilla said.
“Sorry, Grinch,” her husband said.
Shawn Hardy is a reporter with Gannett's Franklin County newspapers in south-central Pennsylvania — the Echo Pilot in Greencastle, The Record Herald in Waynesboro and the Public Opinion in Chambersburg. She has more than 35 years of journalism experience. Reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org