Talent resident Anna Baker was a widow with a college-age daughter and a 9-year-old son; Bill Powell had been divorced for 10 years. They met on the Internet in 2004, then corresponded by e-mail for a few weeks before meeting for coffee at Talent's Downtowne Coffee House.
"It was so exciting," Baker recalls. "I remember rushing to the computer to see what he would write next."
Two years later, they were married.
Meeting a spouse or significant other in cyberspace is evolving into a classic love story in this technology-driven society.
Baker and Powell's romance, which began while both were sitting at their computers, is just one example of locals turning to online dating sites and even Craigslist to find that special someone.
Online Dating Magazine estimates that about 20 million people per month visit at least one online dating site. The volume is one indication that the stigma has nearly evaporated, Match.com suggests on its site.
In 2004, "Online Dating For Dummies" was published by a group of scholars who had done research and even dissertations on the subject, another sign that online dating is firmly established in pop culture.
Powell says he knew he was in love with Baker about a month after they met.
They were walking back to Talent on the Bear Creek Greenway after having lunch in Ashland when a thunderstorm struck.
He gave her a hug and sent her to shelter under the eaves at Schrodt Designs on Oak Street in Ashland while he ran to his truck about a mile and a half away.
"When I came back to pick her up, she was under the eaves curled up, and she just looked like the cutest sweetie," he recalls.
Baker knew she was in love with Powell during a fishing trip to the Applegate Valley. Powell had made a knapping kit used for chiseling arrowheads for Baker's son, Jack. The three of them spent the day fishing, picnicking and knapping.
"Bill and Jack were wearing goggles so they wouldn't get anything in their eyes," she says. "It was just so sweet to watch."
When Baker created her online profile, she was careful to craft it in a way that would attract only serious prospects. She didn't post a photo and didn't offer to send pictures to those with whom she was corresponding.
"If they were not willing to meet me for coffee, if their only interest was in how I look, I didn't consider them," she says.
Powell says she was so interesting to communicate with that he didn't mind waiting until their coffee date to have a look at her.
With certain precautions, online dating is probably as safe as meeting someone in a bar.
"Online Dating For Dummies" recommends that people keep their guard up on online dating sites. The anonymity of online dating lends itself to information disclosures that might not ordinarily be made, so beware, the book says.
A Medford secretary who wishes to remain anonymous for privacy reasons says when she meets a man online, she always makes the first date in a public place. This will help prevent unwanted attention.
False claims are one of the major pitfalls of online dating, says Dennis Dunleavy, a communications associate professor who researches technology's effect on socializing.
"The issue is, can you really trust those profiles?" Dunleavy says.
Some sites, such as eHarmony, screen candidates, but a site such as Craigslist isn't vetted at all, he notes.
"I met one guy who was 15 to 20 years older than what he said in his profile," the Medford secretary says. "It's frustrating for me because I am an honest person up front."
She met another man online whom she dated for four months before discovering he was two-timing her on a swingers dating site.
"I was like, 'Eww, I'm going to go take a shower,' " she recalls. "At least I get a story out of each experience."
The Internet can accelerate the rate at which one meets dating prospects, as well as the speed at which relationships develop, which can have both negative and positive effects, Dunleavy says.
"We used to have mail-order brides; now we just e-mail," he quips.
Reach reporter Paris Achen at 541-776-4459 or firstname.lastname@example.org.