Bill and Judy Setto were childhood sweethearts, then high school rivals before losing touch for 20 years. This year, the Canonsburg couple will celebrate their 40th wedding anniversary and a love story “only God” could have authored.
They went to Alexander Elementary School in Strabane. She was a cheerleader and he was involved in sports. They often rode the buses together and had mutual friends.
“We were a thing all through school,” Judy said. “We were declared – our friends knew we were boyfriend and girlfriend.”
She gave him a turquoise scarf that he tied around his bike handlebars.
“So I rode around Strabane with that scarf on my bike,” he said.
Dating looked different back then for eighth-graders. They listened to records, went bowling, attended school dances and played games like kickball, jacks and marbles.
“Playing marbles was like the Super Bowl – that’s what entertained us,” Bill said.
He moved out of Strabane and into Houston, switching from the Canon-McMillan School District to the Chartiers-Houston district.
“When he moved it was just kind of done, and we never really talked,” Judy said.
They each had different significant others in high school. He became a football star in Chartiers and she was the pep squad leader for Canon-Mac. One time, before a big football game between the rival schools, Judy and her Canon-Mac squad paraded through Houston to stir up trouble.
“I was sitting on the back of a convertible like a queen,” she recalled.
Bill and his Chartiers crew knew they were coming, so they got their “ammunition ready,” he said.
“We sprayed them with water and threw tomatoes at them,” he said. “We got ‘em.”
After graduation, they went their separate ways. Bill never left Washington County; Judy never left the Canonsburg area. For two decades they never saw each other.
“It’s amazing because we never ran into each other even though we lived close by to each other,” Bill said. “It was done.”
In 1962, Bill married and had four children – Kimberley Gloady, Billy Setto, Kelley Deep and Bobby Setto. He divorced about 15 years later. Judy was married in 1964, and had a daughter Laura Borish. Judy got divorced in 1978.
Later in 1978, she and Bill reconnected through Bill’s brother Paul, who happened to be Laura’s middle school math teacher.
“He said to me, ‘Guess who I saw?’” Bill recalled. “He said, ‘I saw Judy.’”
Paul asked Bill if he’d like to call Judy to catch up.
“That big macho guy over there had his brother call me first,” Judy said, pointing at Bill. “So when Paul called me he said, ‘I was talking to my brother and he’d like to know if you’d want to go out for coffee.’ Talk about a worm.”
Neither of them wanted another relationship – at least, that’s what they thought. They were in their late 30s with most of their time and attention going to their children, who were still in grade school and high school.
“I already went through one, I wasn’t going to go through another one,” Bill said, talking about marriage. “And you start to wonder if you’re going to find somebody that will accept me and my children, because it’s a package deal.”
They decided to get coffee in Washington to talk about the good old days, with the expectation that it was only coffee, not a lifetime commitment. They had a good time.
“We both had the feeling that we would meet again,” Bill said.
They went out a few times and eventually started doing more things together with their children and eventually fell in love.
“You know how something just feels right – It felt right,” Judy said. “He really cared for his kids, and that’s what impressed me.”
The couple married April 25, 1980, at a very crowded South Canonsburg Church. Their wedding song was “Reunited” by Peaches & Herb. Judy said so many people came to their wedding because they thought their story was a “fairy tale.”
But their marriage wasn’t always a fairytale. When they moved in together, that’s “when the fun began,” Bill said. Their children had a difficult time adjusting at first, but “with a lot of prayer” they started to get along, he said.
The Settos, who attend Champion Christian Center, are people of faith – They started this interview in prayer. They are adamant that “only God” could have brought them together again after so long apart, and that “only God” could have built the beautiful family they have now, with 13 grandchildren and three great-grandchildren.
“It’s not perfect, but it’s ours,” Judy said. “This is what God can do.”
They’re looking forward to their 40th anniversary and many more.
“It’s been a good life,” Bill said. “It’s amazing how things worked out.”