Meant For Each Other: Couple Finds Love At Senior Center

Judy Kramer
County Reporter
Warsaw Senior Center volunteers Barb West, 70, and Bruce Herdman, 75, were joined in marriage in front of about 45 friends and relatives on October 27, at 1:30. The wedding took place at the Senior Center, and is the second wedding of volunteers which has been held at the Center since it relocated to Harbor Village in 2013. 
Best Man was Robert Adkison, from Springfield. Maid of Honor was Warsaw resident Vickie Pretzer, and Barb West was given away by her friend Gene Hembree. The Rev. Richard Cook officiated at the ceremony, providing humor by holding up Barb’s wedding ring so everyone in the audience could get a better look, and telling attendees to “hold on” when they shouted “Kiss the bride!” 
Mrs. Herdman had previously been widowed after 32 years of marriage. She has four children. Mr. Herdman had previously been married for 51 years before becoming a widower. He has two children. The bride confessed to a little bit of nervousness before the ceremony, but also expressed her happiness.
“I never thought this would happen again,” she expressed in an emotional moment.
There have been a total of five weddings between Senior Center participants and volunteers in the past four years. Two and a half years prior to the Herdman’s wedding, Le and Terry Terrfield said their marriage vows at the Senior Center. Three other couples married elsewhere.
“There are many more people from this Center who have met and become close friends and companions,” said Judy Masters, Center decorator and teacher of Zumba and Pilates classes. “This is a place to find companions. So many people are alone and this is a good place to take classes, meet friends and do activities that stimulate the mind and heart, as well as have fun.”
Wedding planning for the Herdmans was left in the hands of JoAnn Jordan, Benton County Service Director. She found a volunteer, whose husband had been a baker, to make the wedding cake. The RSVP volunteer got a hanky with blue on it and was designated as the photographer. Other volunteers paid for the wedding cake.
“One lady gave us the use of an archway,” said Jordan. “I got flowers for its decoration, and another lady put lace on it.” 
Volunteers prepared the café for the reception, and an adjoining room into the wedding chapel. They began the transformation at 1 PM when lunch ended, and only had 30 minutes to complete the job before the wedding ceremony began.
Many people lose friends and spouses as they age, causing them to miss the joy, comfort, love, laughter, and companionship that were once part of their everyday life. Some are finding new friends and spouses at senior centers, as well as activities to keep them busy. Others find companionship by volunteering, going to church, getting a part-time job, or making it a point to go out to eat, or joining organizations.
An online New York Times article reported AARP statistics on senior citizen dating, stating that 45 percent of adults 65 and older are divorced, separated or widowed. Professors of gerontology at Bowling Green State University reported (in the NY Times article) that the 60-plus crowd represents the fastest-growing segment in online daters. However, dating for seniors can be daunting because they struggle with the special etiquette of digital romance, and some of them call matchmakers and dating coaches to help them make sense of the whole situation. 
A few regulars at the Warsaw Senior Center who remarried in their senior years recalled how they met their spouses.
After being widowed twice, Norma Jean Ard met her husband Graham Ard at Ferg’s Diner on Hwy 7 in Warsaw five years ago. She says that a friend introduced them to each other. They now go to the Warsaw Senior Center everyday to eat and meet with friends.
Amy and James Wills met on a mission trip 11 years ago. They actually belonged to the same church, but didn’t know each other before the trip.
“I didn’t realize that there was anything going on between us until he sent me roses one day,” said Amy.
Kaye Fair, Public Information Officer for Care Connection for Aging Services (Area agency for Warsaw and 21 other senior centers) said that senior centers are great places to find fellowship, friendship and activities, and that Warsaw’s Senior Center has a terrific amount of offerings including guitar and pottery classes to line dancing and other fitness activities. She also hinted that senior centers may be a good place to meet a special companion.
“I have heard that there is a romance in the Warrensburg Senior Center too, and might even be an engagement,” said Fair.