Fred Reed and Barbara “Babs” Roller never thought they would ever get married again.
Roller, 82, and Reed, 83, had each been married for more than 50 years before both their spouses died in 2013.
But they met at Oakwood Village in Springfield, where they live and serve on the same committees, and began “dating” about a year ago. On Sunday, they will tie the knot at a small service at the chapel at Oakwood Village before friends and family, a Catholic priest and a Episcopalian priest.
“Evidently, you’re not too old to restart your life and be happy with it following both of us having a very successful loving relationship for many years,” Roller said. “I would hope people would see that you can actually be in love again.”
Nationwide, an estimated 500,000 people 65 and older remarry each year, according to research published by Marilyn Coleman and Lawrence Ganong, professors at the University of Missouri.
Maureen Fagans, executive director of United Senior Services, said research shows that it’s critical for older adults to continue to socialize, develop relationships and stay active as they age.
“The importance of being connected and being in relationships is very important,” Fagans said. “We have the research and there’s a great body of knowledge that recognizes the importance, especially as you age, of being engaged, being involved. And socializing is a very important component.”
On their first date, they watched the movie Lincoln on DVD at Reed’s apartment. Neither thought it was the start of something serious.
“Absolutely not. It was just a friend thing. Got anything better to do? Well, no,” Roller said, laughing.
Reed said he, too, didn’t think the date would lead to a walk down the aisle.
“I wasn’t going that fast,” Reed said. “But she’s a really nice person, and we enjoyed being together.”
Roller said she and her fiancee also went to restaurants, a couple concerts, to the park and to the dam with Reed’s dog Princess.
“We have somewhat similar personalities, both a little outgoing and so on, and just began to enjoy little quips and that type of thing and it all kind of went from there,” Roller said.
Reed got on one knee on Thanksgiving Day this past November and proposed to Roller in her living room, she said.
“Somebody said: And did you have to help him up?” Roller said laughing. “I don’t think I did, come to think of it.”
Reed said he hadn’t planned to get married until he became involved with Roller, and she changed his mind.
“We were on the same page in a lot of ways,” Reed said. “We both enjoyed having a sense of humor. We enjoyed good conversation. We were both socially inclined. We were active in the residents association at Oakwood Village and concerned about others as well as ourselves. And she was just a great person to be around.”
Roller said the couple considered getting married on Valentine’s Day, but decided instead to walk down the aisle on Sunday to make it easier on the Oakwood staff.
Roller graduated from Catholic Central High School and was a secretary at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base. Then she moved to California with her late husband, Bob, where she worked at Norton Air Force Base.
She said most people she and Reed’s age don’t remarry after becoming widowed, but that family and friends are happy they found love again.
“Both sides are extremely supportive, and I think very pleased at the happiness that I think we’re exuding,” Roller said.
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