Had it not been for two friends who wouldn’t take no for an answer and a third friend who was kind enough to make an introduction, Stark County Common Pleas Judge Frank Forchione might never have met his wife.
Forchione and his wife, Rachel, met in 2011 at a fundraiser for the county sales tax ballot issue.
“I didn’t want to go,” Forchione recalled. “I was so tired from campaigning. Mayor (Thomas) Bernabei and Judge (Richard) Reinbold dragged me.”
Rachel Forchione, chief of planning at the Stark Regional Planning Commission, was there because her office was trying to acquire the Frank T. Bow Federal Building for the courts.
Forchione said he spotted his future wife, chatting with then-county court Administrator Marc Warner—but he couldn’t get in a word.
“I was supposed to take my mom and dad to the movies, but she kept talking to Marc,” he recalled, laughing.
“Marc, being the nice guy that he is, introduced us,” Rachel Forchione said.
A couple of weeks later, the Planning Commission held an open house for the judiciary, and the two had a chance to talk—but they still didn’t date right away.
“It was a back-and-forth thing for about four months,” she recalled.
Their first date? Lunch at the Conestoga restaurant, a stone’s throw from the courthouse.
“I think we both were a little afraid,” he said. “She was a county employee, and I had just gotten my job.”
“And I had never heard anything good about anyone in the legal profession,” Rachel Forchione added with a laugh.
But a mutual love of reading lit a spark.
“She told me she liked to read, and she didn’t have television. I thought that was interesting,” he said. “I asked her what she was reading, and she said ‘A Tale of Two Cities.’ ”
Forchione quoted for her the opening sentence of the Charles Dickens’ classic: “It was the best of times, it was the worst of times.”
Forchione invited Rachel to his family’s Christmas Eve gathering, which can number as many as 75 guests.
A native of San Angelo, Texas, she was alone in town for the holiday.
“I didn’t tell anyone I invited her,” he said. “I didn’t think she was going to come.”
“That night I met all of his sisters,” she said.
How did each know they had found the right one?
Rachel: “On our second date, we stopped for lunch after our hike, and he started talking to an elderly couple sitting behind us. At first, I thought it was just politics, but then he took up their trash. That’s when I knew he was something different.”
Frank: “She passed the gatekeepers, my five sisters. My dad fell in love with her. That had never happened.”
They share a love of travel …
The couple, who married on October 24, 2015, share a love of travel. In 2016, they took a delayed honeymoon to Paris and London. Their most recent trip was to Italy.
Frank: “She’s a great travel partner. She even went with me to the beaches at Normandy.”
What do they think are each other’s best qualities?
Rachel: “His compassion and humility.”
Frank: “My dad said it best, ‘She has a good heart.’ She’s the kindest person I know.”