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Roz and Ralph grew up in St. Louis — and found love decades later, living 1,500 miles apart

Ralph Insinger and Roz Lewy
Emily Woodbury
Ralph Insinger and Roz Lewy both grew up in the St. Louis region, though they met decades later, when Ralph lived in Cambridge, Massachusetts, and Roz in Palm Beach Gardens, Florida.

Roz Lewy and Ralph Insinger had both lost their spouses when they met in 2018. The native St. Louisans lived 1,500 miles apart then. Little did they know that the hundreds of emails they’d exchange over the next year would lead them to love and happiness.

The two met for lunch with Lewy’s daughter Karen, who was Insinger’s attorney. Lewy was visiting her daughter in Boston at the time.

“She was so delighted to have a new client who reminded her a great deal of her father, my husband, John, who passed away in 2007,” Lewy said.

After that first meeting, Lewy and Insinger, now 81 and 87 years old, exchanged emails — sometimes up to three times per day. They realized their relationship was something beyond just pen pals a few months into their correspondence.

“I loved reading Ralph's very articulate, very humorous, very clever emails,” Lewy said. “As he would present something that was really funny, I wanted to be funnier, or as clever. Not that it was a competition, but it seemed, in an unspoken measured way, [that] each of us were enjoying the challenge of each other's articulations.”

As they became more candid regarding their romantic feelings for one another, Lewy decided to print a stack of their emails.

“In the back of my head I had this thought that if anything really comes of this, it's the perfect script for a Hallmark Hall of Fame geriatric romance,” she said.

Listen: Roz and Ralph's interview on St. Louis on the Air

The pair eventually made their relationship official. They now live together in Palm Beach Gardens, Florida, and their smart, touching, funny and frank messages have been published in the book, “Beyond Beyond: A Chance Encounter, an Online Courtship and the Language of Love."

Lewy hopes the book inspires people to remain open to new experiences, especially in their golden years when they might not be actively looking for them.

“There are so many widows and widowers who feel sadness and loneliness and not a sense of, ‘perhaps there might be another chapter.’ And I thought that perhaps, if someone were reading something authentic and true, they might feel inspired. They might feel hopeful and might be open. I think that's really the key — to be open to a chapter that you hadn't anticipated,” Lewy said.

“If our emails could inspire and make others happy, it would be a gift to both of us,” she added.

St. Louis on the Air” brings you the stories of St. Louis and the people who live, work and create in our region. The show is produced by Miya Norfleet, Emily Woodbury, Danny Wicentowski, Elaine Cha and Alex Heuer. Avery Rogers is our production assistant. The audio engineer is Aaron Doerr. Send questions and comments about this story to talk@stlpr.org

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Emily is the senior producer for "St. Louis on the Air" at St. Louis Public Radio.
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