Senior lovebirds marry

Most couples start out marriage naive about marital life, but a couple bonded in matrimony this weekend have more experience than most newlyweds.

Katherine Hoover and Robert Degraw

Most couples start out marriage naive about marital life, but a couple bonded in matrimony this weekend have more experience than most newlyweds.

Red Deer great grandmother Katherine Hoover took Robert Degraw’s hand in marriage this weekend. A widow and a widower, the two come from previous long-lasting marriages.

“Between the two of us we have well over 100 years of experience,” Robert said.

Whoever said love was meant for the young never met these two smitten senior citizens.

“We feel like we’re 18 or early 20s again. Don’t we honey?,” said Robert, 75, gazing lovingly at his new wife.

“I’m just past 80, but I feel like 60,” Katherine said.

The two leaned into each other as they talked, patted each other’s hands and beamed 100-watt smiles.

Katherine said love is the same whether a person is 18 or in their 80s. “It never changes.”

Dressed in a dapper black suit, Robert married his bride Saturday in a ceremony held at the Capri Hotel and Convention Centre. Katherine wore a pink ensemble for her special day.

The couple met in the late 1970s, they both attended Independent Assemblies of God, where Katherine’s now deceased husband spoke about the missionary work they did in India.

Degraw invited the couple to speak at his church in Centralia, Ont. — a small community close to London, Ont. — where he lived with his now deceased wife. The initial meeting spawned a relationship between the couples that spanned decades.

Last December, Katherine sent them a Christmas card. Upon receiving the card, Robert phoned Katherine to tell her his wife had passed away. Katherine had lost her husband close to five years ago.

She started phoning Robert to check up on him and console him and that moved on to asking him for advice on the orphanage and widow’s programs in India that she helps run.

He knew she was heading out on another trip to India in the winter and thought she was flying through Toronto so he suggested they have lunch.

She was flying out from Calgary instead, but all was not lost. One of Katherine’s daughters bought her a ticket to visit Robert in mid-March.

During the visit from Monday to Friday, the lovebirds went to see maple syrup being made and Degraw took Katherine to a renowned restaurant in London, Ont., called Michael’s on the Thames.

“By Wednesday I knew there was more to this than just Katherine calling me. I knew there was far more to it,” he said.

After an in-depth talk that lasted from breakfast until dinner time they knew they wanted more than friendship. He hugged her, told her he loved her and later asked if she would marry him.

“We felt that this was divine providence of God that we were together. From there we very seriously started to make plans for this marriage,” Katherine said.

They joked about heading to Las Vegas, but Robert suggested they could each pick one daughter — Degraw has three and Katherine has four — to help them plan a small ceremony.

It was a joyous affair as more than 60 friends and family gathered Saturday, with Mel Mullen, pastor of Word of Life Church officiating. He reminded the couple that “the best is yet to come.”

The two plan to head to Arizona for a honeymoon and then settle together in Centralia, Ont. Next February both Robert and Katherine will go to India to oversee the orphanage and widow’s program. Founded in 1981, the orphanage now houses more than 60 boys in India. The widows’ program helps 18 women.

“It is an oasis in India. People tell me that when they come to visit,” Katherine said. “It is like a Garden of Eden.”

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