Fred Stobaugh, 96, remembered laying eyes on the prettiest girl he ever saw: It was 1938, and she was a car hop named Lorraine at an A&W Rootbeer stand in East Peoria, Ill.
Two years later, she was his wife. They remained together until Lorraine's death this year.
"She gave me 75 years of her life," Stobaugh said in an online documentary.
It was this love story that transformed Stobaugh - not a musician by any means - into a chart-topping songwriter and Internet star.
Soon after Lorraine died, Green Shoe Studio, an Illinois-based music studio, held an online contest for singer-songwriters. Studio employees were sorting through uploaded videos when they received a manila envelope.
Inside were heartfelt lyrics that Stobaugh wrote about the love of his life, titled "Sweet Lorraine."
"Oh sweet Lorraine, I wish we could do all the good times over again," the song starts. "Oh sweet Lorraine, life only goes around once, but never again. ... The memories always linger on. Oh sweet Lorraine, I don't want to move on. ... that's why I wrote this song."
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The studio said the lyrics didn't meet the submission criteria for the singer-songwriter contest. But it did him one better - the studio had professional musicians work with Stobaugh to transform the lyrics into a song.
The studio created a documentary video telling Stobaugh's story and posted it online.
The video showed the moment Stobaugh first listened to the finished song. When the song was over, Stobaugh visibly trembled, held his hand over his mouth and stared off into the distance.
"Wonderful," he said.
The song has since gone on to top the iTunes downloads in the Singer/Songwriter category, according to Green Shoe Studio.
"It was a wonderful 75 years," he said. "I often think they're kind of unreal - dreaming, or something. But it was real. That's all I can say. It was real."
"I really, really miss her," he said. "It just don't seem right."
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