By Jennifer Wulff
May 14, 2007 12:00 PM

Not many love stories are 40 years in the making, but Tom Poston and Suzanne Pleshette, who met acting on Broadway in 1959 and worked together on The Bob Newhart Show, didn’t say “I do” until 2001. Though they dated briefly in the 1960s, they married others and didn’t reconnect until both were widowed. In 2000 Poston took Pleshette to Jerry’s Deli in L.A., and, Pleshette told PEOPLE, “I guess things began to happen after the tuna melt.”

Sadly their story came to an end on April 30, when Poston, 85, passed away at the couple’s L.A. home after a brief illness. “He was such a wonderful man,” says Pleshette, 70. “He had fun every day of his life.”

And he could always be counted on for a chuckle. “You could read everything in his face,” says longtime friend Tim Conway. “He could just look at you and you would start laughing.” Along with countless guest roles over five decades, the former Army pilot created some of TV’s most memorable characters—the bumbling boozer on Mork & Mindy and the hapless handyman on Newhart. “These guys are about a half-step behind life’s parade,” he once said of his roles. But Poston himself, a father of three, marched right in front. “My husband was a delicious man,” says Pleshette, “and I miss him.”