When Jeffrey Kopp kissed Pamela Gibson for the first time after many years apart, he said spontaneously: “I love you. I have always loved you. I will love you forever and always.” That phrase has become the couple’s mantra; they married on December 23, 2017 at Kenilworth Union Church — four decades after they broke up.
They rekindled their relationship in the fall of 2016, after 39 years had passed since they were high school sweethearts at New Trier East High School in Winnetka, where they graduated in 1977.
It wasn’t a straight path for Kopp and Gibson: He was married twice before and has three grown children; she went through one divorce and raised two sons. They both endured tragic losses of close family members, including his sister and one of her boys.
The years also included missed opportunities for the couple to reconnect, but they found love again over social media and the Chicago Cubs.
After a graduation party at her family’s house in Winnetka all those years ago, Gibson broke it off with Kopp after realizing she didn’t want a commitment. But even though Gibson had just called it quits, she knew Kopp was a good friend because he insisted on helping her return decorations from the party.
Gibson recalled the exact place on Green Bay Road, just north of Elm Street, where Kopp told her he would always be there for her, no matter what.
“I looked at him and thought: ‘What have I done?’ ” Gibson said.
Gibson and Kopp went their separate ways after graduation, with Kopp attending the University of Southern California, and Gibson attending the University of Arizona. Kopp married his college girlfriend during his sophomore year, and he remained in California, working in television and raising three children.
But the marriage did not work out, and Kopp was divorced when he returned to the North Shore for his 10-year high school reunion in 1987. He asked everyone he saw there if they had seen Gibson.
“I was always thinking of her. Never did I stop thinking about her,” Kopp said.
The reunion turned out to be a missed opportunity, since Gibson was married and was at the event with her husband.
Gibson’s own marriage ended in divorce in 1993, and she spent the following years establishing a career in human resources and raising her two boys. She dated but never connected with anyone. Kopp, who was working as a television producer in L.A., had remarried.
The couple reconnected as friends in 2009 on Facebook, after Gibson’s older son died tragically and she reached out to her old friend in a private message to share her loss. “I was heartbroken for her because I can’t imagine what it would be like for a parent to lose a child,” Kopp said. He wrote Gibson a long, heartfelt letter sharing details of his own past and commiserating in her pain.
It wasn’t until 2016 that they began to rekindle their old flame. In August of that year, when Kopp was in Chicago to take in a Cubs game, his favorite team, he invited his old friend.
In addition to the Cubs game, they revisited some of their old North Shore haunts, like Walker Brothers Pancake House in Wilmette, and shared all that had transpired in their lives over the past 39 years.
Back in L.A., Kopp was watching the Cubs on television, and he kept seeing Gibson on the screen — as she was sitting behind home plate at the game. He immediately contacted her and learned she had broken up with a man she was dating. Kopp shared that he was getting divorced.
Finally, they saw an opportunity to get back together. They spent the next year watching concerts, traveling, and reconnecting.
“We did a huge amount of fun things together,” Kopp said. They saw the Cubs during game five of the World Series. They traveled to Paris and purchased a padlock, throwing the key into the Seine River. Kopp became well known in Gibson’s office, where he sent her flowers daily.
When Kopp proposed the day after Thanksgiving 2017, Gibson knew in her heart this was the right decision. “It was just the natural thing to be with him for life. It’s just right,” she said.
The couple married at Kenilworth Union Church, where Kopp had attended with his family growing up; Gibson’s son was the best man. At the reception at Michigan Shores Club in Wilmette, Kopp and Gibson danced to “Because of You,” a song her father had recorded the music for before he died.
For now, Kopp remains in L.A. where he is a producer on the Late, Late Show With James Corden, and Gibson lives in Evanston and works as corporate vice president of human resources at The Bradford Group/Hammacher Schlemmer. They seize every opportunity to spend time with each other, and plan to eventually settle together in the Chicago area.
Both Kopp and Gibson believe they have angels looking out for them — his sister, her son and father — ensuring that they would be together.
“It felt like our angels were just crashing us together,” Gibson said.
Kopp agreed. “Love is everything. True love conquers all every time,” he said.