A simple smile launched the 70-year love story of Peter and Emily Spadaro. She was practicing tennis alone when he introduced himself and invited her to play a match.
“She looked up and smiled at me,” Peter says. “I remember that smile like it was yesterday.”
The Spadaros recently celebrated their 65th wedding anniversary. They are now residents of the Lifespace Communities health center at Friendship Village of South Hills in Upper St. Clair, Pennsylvania. Team members realized the couple could not go out on the town to celebrate, so they arranged an elegant dinner at the community. It was a celebration to remember – a romantic, private dinner complete with flowers, wine and seafood.
“The Spadaros are a very, very special couple,” says Jessica Brannan, a nursing assistant who helped arrange the dinner. “Mr. Spadaro is the most positive, outgoing person I know. I’ve never met anyone like him.”
Brannan did some research and found that blue is the traditional color for 65th wedding anniversaries, so she covered the dining room table in a beautiful blue tablecloth.
But she didn’t stop there.
“There were blue hydrangeas on the table and we got a bouquet for Mr. Spadaro to give to his wife,” Brannan says. “They signed cards for each other. It was so sweet.”
Brannan helped Peter surprise his wife with a blue sapphire necklace. She also helped Emily buy a red sweater for her husband after he mentioned red was his favorite color.
Brannan enlisted Life Enrichment Lead Kara Freeman and Culinary Lead Tonya Schramm in setting up the dinner.
“This kind of caring attitude and attention to detail shows the special relationships and admiration that our team members have for all of our residents,” says Friendship Village Administrator Russ Firewicz. “This is the same devotion that you would show to your own grandparents, and we are proud of our team members for making such an effort.”
The romance that began on a tennis court led to their marriage in 1951. They raised a family and shared their passion for tennis and ice skating. The couple moved to the continuing care retirement community six years ago.
“My wife reminded me frequently that the only reason our marriage has lasted this long is because she was so patient with me,” Peter says. “I would say to her, after about a minute, ’You’re right.’”
Another secret to their long marriage has been dividing everything evenly, Peter says. “She got 60 percent and I got 40 percent,” he jokes.
Friendship Village team members took photographs of the anniversary dinner and later presented them to the couple in an album.
“The pictures will be a treasure for Emily and I the rest of our lives, especially the one of me kissing her,” Peter says. “They will live forever in our memories.”
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