North Huntingdon couple joins ever-growing ranks of older newlyweds
Charlene Weyels-Price wasn’t looking for love.
But there was this guy.
He was a little older, and they enjoyed hitting the dance floor.
“Our love of music is what brought us together, and he liked the way I danced,” Weyels-Price said.
Fast-forward two years to the couple’s wedding in North Huntingdon — the bride wearing a tiara and sparkly, barely-pink gown and Robert E. Price Sr. looking dapper in a matching bow tie along with his black sportcoat and pants.
Love was in the air Sept. 14 when the couple’s retirement community, Redstone Highlands, hosted its first wedding at that location. She’s 71. He is 84.
“Age doesn’t matter to me,” Price said. “I feel like I’m much younger.”
Finding love, later
Later-in-life marriages and older people living as couples are increasing, state figures and national studies show.
While marriages in Pennsylvania decreased slightly over 15 years, dropping from 74,311 in 2002 to 73,304 in 2017, the number of people ages 50 and older who got married increased dramatically — climbing more than 60 percent in that time period, according to statistics kept by the state Department of Health.
The same holds true in Westmoreland County, where 1,763 couples got married in 2017 — including 201 women and 273 men ages 50 and older. The 1,834 marriages in the county in 2002 included 119 women and 181 men ages 50 and older.
The number of marriages in Allegheny County increased slightly, from 6,003 in 2002 to 6,699 in 2017, state records show. The number of women over 50 who married nearly doubled over that span, going from 343 to 636; and the number of men increased more than 60 percent, from 508 to 822.
Researchers found in 2014 that remarriage was on the rise for Americans 55 and older and a more-recent study showed that the number of older adults living with an unmarried partner is increasing.
According to the Pew Research Center:
• 67 percent of previously-married people between 55 and 64 had remarried in 2013. That’s an increase from 55 percent in 1960.
• Half of people 65 and older had remarried in 2013. That figure was 34 percent in 1960. Researchers speculated that a rise in life expectancy may contribute to older adults seeking fulfillment in their golden years.
• Of the 18 million adults cohabitating in 2016, four million of them were 50 and older. That’s a 75 percent increase from the 2.3 million who lived with an unmarried partner in 2007. It was the fastest increase among all age groups for that time period.
Happily ever after
Weyels-Price and Price fell into that category before getting married.
Their story began at the Colonial Grille in Irwin, where they had seen each other for several months and shared a few dances together. She agreed to go to a jazz event with him at the Westmoreland Museum of American Art, and they’ve never parted.
They were engaged in July 2017. Price was a widower, and Weyels-Price was divorced.
Their active lifestyles, trying new things and deep passion for music — Weyels-Price’s father was a professional musician and Price plays in several bands — drew them to each other.
“We go out dancing probably at least two times a week,” Weyels-Price said.
Price has taken up bicycling with his new bride. Weyels-Price enjoys spending time in the sky with her groom, who has his pilot’s license. She’s dusted off her accordion to learn songs with Price, who performs with the Jeannette Community Band, among other music groups.
“I think it’s great,” said the Rev. Bobbie Hineline, who officiated the wedding. “Maybe other people will be inspired, you never know.”
Price and his late wife founded Thermo King of Pittsburgh in North Huntingdon in 1971. Weyels-Price, originally from North Braddock, lived in the Saltsburg area and worked as a nursery school teacher for a church.
Their wedding was full of personal details, from records used as centerpieces to a range of menu items that reflected their interests, from bar food to seafood. They had four tiers of doughnuts, a champagne toast and, of course, live music and dancing.
They hope their relationship shows others to not let age hold them back from pursuing happiness. They plan to spend some time together at the beach while deciding on a honeymoon destination.
With sun streaming through the windows at the community’s clubhouse last week, Weyels-Price walked into the room and towards her groom. Price swallowed and broke into a smile.
“You look beautiful, babe,” he said.
Renatta Signorini is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Renatta at 724-837-5374, [email protected] or via Twitter @byrenatta.