Couple find love, wed in their 80s

June 16, 2002|by RICHARD BELISLE

This time it was the woman who made the first move.

The occasion surfaced for Pearle Markle-Spangler at Hardee's Restaurant on Oct. 5, 2000.

She spotted Joseph Spangler and remembered that he was once a patient of her husband, Dr. Charles Markle, a Waynesboro osteopath. Joseph regularly brought Charles Markle freshly caught trout.

Pearle seized the moment when she saw Joseph in Hardee's. "I told him that even though Dr. Markle was gone, I still liked trout," she said.

Joseph said he'd bring her some. "We talked and two weeks later I brought her some more," he said.

They talked some more and learned that they had a lot in common. Both were widowed after decades of marriage, both were religious and both were lonely. They liked the same television programs, the Atlanta Braves, football and spaghetti.


Pearle made another move after Joseph delivered the second batch of trout. "I told him that since he liked spaghetti, too, that I'd take him out for some to pay him back for the fish."

One thing led to another, then another, then marriage two weeks ago, before a small family gathering. They honeymooned for five days at the swank Greenbrier Inn in White Sulphur Springs, W.Va.

Pearle, now Pearle Markle-Spangler, is 82. Joseph is 81.

They decided to live in her home on North Grant Street. Joseph will soon sell the home he and his wife designed and built in 1961 and raised their three children in.

He's happy to be living in his new wife's home but says it's hard to give up his own because of all the memories it holds. He and his wife were married for 581/2 years. His children are helping to pack things up for the auction scheduled for the next few weeks and he's putting aside family mementos.

Still, he said he's determined to move forward.

"This is a new life for me, a new chapter," he said.

He brought his easy chair, his stereo and a small table when he moved in with Pearle.

They said they decided to live there because although it has four bedrooms on the second floor, everything they need is on the first.

She has maid service and a gardener which also makes it easier.

"I used to take care of my own house, but this year it got to be too much," Joseph said.

They know they found something valuable in each other's company.

"Living alone is so lonely," said Pearle, who had been married for 23 years. "Evenings are the worst. I used to go out a lot at night just to be around people. I don't have to do that anymore," she said, giving Joseph a squeeze on the hand as she spoke.

"People may think we're crazy to get married, but I knew in a month that I was going to fall in love with him," Pearle said. She acknowledges that she was more ready for a relationship than Joseph. She had been widowed for seven years.

The death of Joseph's wife was much more recent.

"I was moving a lot slower," he said. He had not finished grieving over the death of his wife when he met Pearle, he said. It took him a year or better before he felt he was ready to commit to her, he said.

What made it easier for them to come together was how much they had in common and how lonely both were feeling without someone special in their lives after so many years of marriage, they said.

Pearle and Joseph took three long trips together before they were married - to Europe, Branson, Mo., and a sea cruise. They just returned from their honeymoon and they're already planning their next trip.

This time they're going to Myrtle Beach, S.C.

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