"To have and to hold, for richer, for poorer, in sickness and in health, to love and to cherish for the rest of our lives."
--from Beaulieu vows
Two seniors who met over the Moorpark Senior Center pool table are playing for keeps these days. On July 10, Nina Weiner, 67, and Ray Beaulieu, 70, took their cue from Cupid and exchanged vows before 85 guests in the first wedding ceremony held at the center. Ray proposed there during a cribbage game two months ago.
"We all knew that they played pool together. But we didn't realize how serious that pool game was getting," said Lee Burola, vice president of Moorpark Senior Citizens.
"I instructed Nina how to play pool. First thing you know, she starts beating me," said Ray, a retired carpenter and builder.
"We have a lot of common interests," he said. "She was an agricultural major and I'm an old farm boy. I loved her personality and the way she does things."
"We just clicked," said Nina.
Before he proposed May 23, Ray was planning to move to Ojai. "I couldn't stand the thought of not seeing him every day," Nina said.
But it took her until Father's Day to accept. "Even at her age, it's a major decision," said Beth Skaggs, Nina's daughter and matron-of-honor. "You just don't rush into things."
Nina said she was so flustered after becoming engaged, she doesn't remember what they did that day.
"I think we played cards," Ray said.
In the parking lot before the late-morning ceremony, Nina's niece and daughter painted the white Plymouth seven-passenger honeymoon van with slogans and hearts. The radio antenna was festooned with ribbons and heart-shaped balloons.
"I'm so glad my mom found someone," Skaggs said. "They will make their home in Moorpark, they are not deserting their friends. In fact, both are still signed up for lunch at the senior center tomorrow."
"We're excited," said Everett Braun, president of Moorpark Senior Citizens. "We're glad to hear that romance is still alive." He believes that the wedding probably attracted more participants at the center than any activity this year.
According to Braun, the center has been operating on a volunteer basis for the last five years. The city provides funds for a cook and assistant who serve about 75 lunches per week as part of a countywide nutrition program. With a new $8,000 grant from the Area Agency on Aging, Braun said they plan to hire a part-time director.
"We're still struggling, but we want to be open from 9 to 4 so people can drop in to socialize, play cards, bingo, and have some senior crafts," he said.
"Nina and Ray are very active here at the center. They come for lunch and they love bingo, bridge and cribbage," Burola said. Since it is the third marriage for both, the Beaulieus requested gifts to be in the form of contributions to purchase a new, professional-size pool table for the center.
The existing pool table was discreetly covered for the wedding, and felt banners formed a backdrop. Minutes before, the bride and groom greeted guests, who were seated at long cafeteria-style tables decorated for the luncheon to follow. Then, without fanfare or bridal procession, a familiar wedding march started, followed by a soloist's rendition of "O Promise Me,' accompanied by an organist.
"We live in a time when commitments are difficult to make," Pastor James Neleson of Moorpark Lutheran Church said to the couple before him. "We thank you for believing they are still important and for making them here today."
Approving guests, including three hair-netted kitchen workers--watched as Ray and Nina exchanged vows with the help of her daughter, and his brother and 9-year-old nephew. Many guests relived their own nuptials through exchanged glances or the caress of an extended hand. They welcomed the confirmation of love and companionship--the possibility of sharing life at this age.
Ray said, "Honeymoon plans are on the QT." Then someone reminded Nina and Ray that they were still signed up to play bridge the next day.
* WHERE AND WHEN
The Moorpark Senior Center, located at 799 Moorpark Ave. in the Moorpark Community Center next to Moorpark City Hall, invites all seniors to socialize and have a hot noon meal. Suggested donation $1.75. For information or to make reservations for lunch, call (805) 529-4016.