MEMPHIS, Tenn. — They say true love stands the test of time, but there are few examples that test time as much as World War II veteran K.T. Robbins’ love story.
Robbins still has so many mementos from serving give years in the U.S. Army during WWII. He was unloading cans of lard one day when an 18-year-old woman and two children asked if they could have the leftovers.
“I said great, have them all,” Staff Sergeant Robbins said. “We didn’t have a place to put them.”
That encounter led to more time with that young woman and her family.
“Her name was Jeannine Ganaye,” Robbins said.
Robbins spent three months in Ganaye’s French village.
“Finally, I begin to get a courtship,” Robbins said.
The two didn’t speak the same language, but that wasn’t much of an issue.
“You can make signs, do things and make out,” he said with a laugh.
But this love story eventually had to press pause, as Robbins got shipped out.
“After I left, she thought I was coming back,” Robbins said. “She waited for me five years to come back.”
He never did; instead life got in the way.
After the war, Robbins returned home to Memphis, went to Ole Miss, married his wife Lillian and bought a hardware store.
“We had a good life together,” Robbins said. “We were married 70 years, but this other thing was still in my heart.”
That other thing: Jeannine Ganaye.
A local group called Forever Young Veterans heard about Robbins’ story, so they wanted to help him get back to France for the 75th anniversary of D-Day. But they also wanted to help him get back to his first love.
They made it happen.
“Greatest day of my life, I reckon,” Robbins said. “It was great.”
Robbins and Ganaye spent two hours together at the French nursing home where she now lives.
As it turns out, Ganaye got married eventually as well, but neither ever got over their first love for each other.
Robbins now lives in Olive Branch, Mississippi. He said he invited Ganaye and her children to come visit him here, and he doesn’t think their love story is over just yet.