Sealed with a kiss!

Sealed with a kiss!
Laura & Chris' Wedding at JCRaulston Arboretum

Monday, September 12, 2011

Sweet Sit-down Wedding for Elaine, 86, and Bob, 93!

I ran across this sweet and funny story and wanted to share it with you! Here is a link to the original story by By JENNIE GEISLER, Erie Times-News 

 The entire wedding party, including the officiant and his wife, fit around a table for six at Bob Evans.

In a whirlwind week in August, the couple got their marriage license on a Thursday, their rings that Friday, called the minister that Saturday and got married that Sunday. There was no sense in waiting. Elaine (Sechez) Peterson, 86, and Bob Peterson, 93, didn't need flowers, limousines, tuxedos or a DJ to profess their undying love and devotion. "This is the happiest we've ever been," Robert Peterson said. "It's a marriage from heaven," Elaine Peterson agreed.

He didn't propose in the traditional way. "I didn't want to get down on my knees because I'd never get up," he said with a laugh. He was something of a reluctant groom. While he and his future bride had known each other for a year and enjoyed each other's company, he said he was too old to get married, that he didn't want to cause her pain if he died before she did. But he did want to stay the night. "He wanted to live together," said Elaine Peterson. "I said, 'No way are we going to do that.'"

To most intents and purposes, they did live together. In fall of 2010, she moved into an apartment in Niagara Village, a retirement community in Millcreek Township. He lived eight doors down. And she had a car. "I'm still driving," she said. "The only way he could go places was to take the bus." "She's a good driver," Bob Peterson said with a laugh. "A wonderful person and a good driver." Soon after they met in fall, he remarked that he'd like to go see the turning leaves, and she offered to take him. "I drove down (Interstate) 79 to Meadville and turned around," she said. "The leaves were already gone, and I said, 'Oh, well, maybe next year.'" They plan to make good on that.

"After that, I got to thinking what a nice gal you were," he said, facing his new wife. She looked away and shrugged with a smile. "I never gave it a thought," she said, grinning. "I worked my way in," he said. She laughed. They banter, but don't bicker, and neither of them can contain their giggles. "We have laughed and laughed and laughed," Elaine Peterson said. "We've probably never laughed so much in our lives. We find a lot of things to laugh about."

New life

Both Petersons have been married before. Elaine Peterson lost her first husband two years ago. Bob Peterson has been widowed twice. Elaine Peterson has four children, five grandchildren and five great-grandchildren. Bob Peterson has one daughter, one stepdaughter, six grandchildren and eight great-grandchildren. They say their families are happy for them. "We surprised a lot of people," Elaine Peterson said. "But I think they worry less about me now that I'm not alone."

They were by far the oldest couple ever married by their minister, the Rev. Joel Gehly, of the Church of Jesus Christ at 32nd and State streets. "I've known Elaine for 30 years," Gehly said. "She's kind of a surrogate mother." He said he was delighted when he learned she and Bob Peterson wanted to get married. "He's been coming to church with her, and I think it's terrific that she's found happiness," Gehly said.

Gehly said he has married people in several countries while doing mission work, but this wedding was unique. "This was the first wedding I've done where everyone sat down," he said with a laugh. "Bob didn't want to stand, so we sat. It was wonderful." He dispensed with asking for a blessing. "I told them, 'I can't ask your parents,'" he said, so he went ahead with the short ceremony. "They didn't care," he said. "They just wanted to get married." Gehly arranged to have a church singer lead a couple of songs, and then he took the whole party out to dinner. "I told them we could go anywhere they wanted," he said. They ended up at Bob Evans, Elaine Peterson said, laughing. "Bob wanted pancakes with strawberries and whipped cream." She doesn't remember what she had.

Under the radar

The newlyweds weren't looking for attention around Niagara Village. They succeeded at that for about three days. Elaine had wanted to show off her new ring to someone, and by Wednesday, those few well-wishers turned into a cafeteria full of 100 people and a huge cake in the dining room. Celebrants blew bubbles on the new couple. "They had sort of let me in on it," said Crystal Stablein, enrichment coordinator at Niagara Village. "I said, 'Let's do something,' and really quick I got a cake, and we put up some decorations before they came down for lunch." She invited everyone who usually ate there, as well as some of the corporate officers. "We were very happy for them," she said.

Stablein said this is the first time she has seen residents get married in the nine years she's worked there. "We've had a lot of relationships," she said. "This is a regular 'Peyton Place.' The love triangles would crack you up." But marriages are practically unheard of. "Most don't want to give up their independence, and others might lose their pensions or benefits," Stablein said.

So what has marriage brought to the Petersons? "Happiness," Elaine Peterson said. "Complete happiness, satisfaction, no loneliness." And they're saving on the rent to boot, because Bob Peterson has, indeed, moved in.

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