Online dating sites, music venues and — at your own risk — bars are sometimes cited as places to meet a potential significant other.
But Davis’ University Retirement Community? Apparently, given the 13 couples who have met and wed at the local senior-living center, it’s not too much of a stretch.
“They’re missing an opportunity by not using that for marketing: ‘All you old folks come here and meet your mate!’ ” says Georgia Paulo, an 81-year-old resident who can personally attest to URC’s incidental powers of matchmaking.
Four of the original lovebird couples continue to reside at URC. One such pair is Don and Avis Sloan, who separately moved into URC 13 years ago, shortly after its construction.
Were they looking for love? “Definitely not,” Avis says sharply, but laughingly.
And there was no arguing that from Don’s perspective: “I made a statement that I would never get married again,” he says.
Yet here they are, seemingly happily married in their early 80s. This is in part owed to the resident-led adult fitness class at URC, where the two made an introduction that blossomed into something more.
“We’ve walked all over the world,” Don says. “England, Scotland, Wales and just last year, Norway. In fact, one of the first walks we went on — after being acquainted — was a 10k in Fairplay. … We ate at a nice winery there.
“I got home, and the next day I got a thank-you note in the mailbox. It said, ‘I really enjoyed our lunch yesterday.’ I thought, ‘Whoa,’ ” he adds, entertaining the other married couples during a group interview last week.
Longtime residents Dorothy Anderson, 88, and Fred Anderson, 89, also were connected through the adult fitness class. Their tale of finding love was short and sweet, one of simple chemistry through mutual interests.
The couple became better acquainted as they exchanged precious sleeping-in time every Monday, Wednesday and Friday for early-morning exercise. Each had a commitment to staying fit, and eventually, to each other.
“We also shared a love of walking. Oh, and the dimples sort of caught my eye,” Dorothy says with a giggle.
The 89-year-old duo of Carol May and George Hickman were bonded through different, particularly touching, circumstances. The story behind their relationship was featured in The Enterprise in 2003.
The couple initially met when Hickman offered help to Yolo Hospice, where May was a board member, after hospice had eased the suffering of his wife, Dorothy, in her final battle with cancer.
“She went from being in a ball on the couch, trying to deal with the pain,” Hickman recalls, “to the hospice getting her back on her feet … Even to the point where she wanted to go shopping at Macy’s, her favorite store.”
Hickman lost his mate in 1997, as May had lost hers only a year later to a disease of the nervous system. Left alone in their mid-70s, the two ultimately found solace in the company of one another.
Their relationship started slowly: small talk, formal events and short treks around URC. Soon enough, the ruse of mere friendliness was undone.
“She kissed me on the cheek one night, and I suspected something was going on,” Hickman says, initiating a playful debate with May over whether it was intended as an innocent gesture or not.
Since taking their wedding vows in 2000, the couple have devoted their retired years to trips to Hawaii and other, more local, forays to the mountains.
While the duo celebrated each adventure to new heights, they professed to finding life equally enjoyable in the comforts of their grounded home among some neighborly folk.
“People are so friendly here,” May says. “We feel like we’re all part of a common, big family. In crises and tragedies, we just move along — with the help of others.”
The most recent couple to tie the knot was Ray Vincent, 90, and his wife, Paulo (the aforementioned resident with the amusing idea for an advertisement). The two met at URC, and were married there in August 2011.
The newlyweds speak highly of the supportive environment at URC.
Paulo especially leaned on URC residents and staff to get through her late husband’s death — after 60 years of marriage. It was a foundation strong enough for her to consider it “the best place to possibly be.”
“Then, a mutual friend decided the widower and the widow should get together, and she was right,” Paulo says, referring to her meeting Vincent. “She made sure we were at the same place at the same time until we caught on.”
As with nearly all of the senior couples, Paulo and Vincent articulated the kind of heartwarming, affectionate sentiment expected on Valentine’s Day.
“I don’t think a day goes by that we don’t verbalize how happy we are to have each other to share our lives,” Paulo confidently says, pulling her partner close.
— Reach Brett Johnson at [email protected] or 530-747-8052. Follow him on Twitter at @ReporterBrett