Park Ridge couple finds love again — at 70
Helen and Joe Fetsch of Park Ridge married after meeting each other at the Park Ridge Senior Center over two decades ago. | Jennifer Johnson~Sun-Times Media
Updated: March 15, 2013 11:27AM
PARK RIDGE — Joe and Helen Fetsch are proof that love — and marriage — can be just as special the second time around.
The Park Ridge couple, both widowed, met at the Park Ridge Senior Center in a wood-carving class and began seeing each other weekly as part of larger group activities. Friendship soon turned to love, and 22 years ago the couple married at Our Lady of Ransom Church in Niles before a small group of family and friends. Today Joe, 93, and Helen, 92, enjoy the simple things about married life: quiet dinners and spending time with mutual friends at the Senior Center.
Q: After meeting in a group when did you start dating?
A: Helen: Pretty quick. We were coming here a lot in a group, but we would meet with each other, too, and go out for dinner once in a while.
Q: Why did you decide to get married?
A: Helen: We just seemed to be together all the time.
Joe: It seemed the thing to do, that’s all.
Helen: We’re sort of half-way religious, where we didn’t want to move in together (laughs). And we’re still in the house (we bought).
Joe: We each had a home. I had a house, she had a condo. I sold my house and moved in with her. That was cheaper. Then I inherited the house we’re living in now.
Q: What did you like most about Joe?
A: Helen: We just seemed to get along from day one. He liked to do the things I did. He’s a very talented guy (with wood carving).
If the first marriage was good, you really miss somebody then. Not that I was really looking, because I was busy at that time. I worked and stuff like that. I enjoyed my job.
Q: You cook together. What kind of food do you like to make?
A: Helen: We like to make these stews. We put in meat and vegetables, all kinds of vegetables.
Joe: Whatever hits you, you buy it. You run over (to the store) and you get this or that. ... We’re not big for fancy food.
Helen: We’re not fancy people.
Q: If you gave each other a gift for Valentine’s Day, what would it be?
A: Joe: We just enjoy coming (to the Senior Center) and associating with people there.
Helen: It’s good to get out of the house. The people here, they are keeping up. That’s what this place does: it gives you a place to go and meet some friends and just sit around and talk.
When we were younger, we went everywhere (together). We were in Europe, we were all over. And people were good to us.
It’s fun to think about where you went and I think about it a lot because I like to travel. I have a nephew and one of his kids is in Hawaii now. She’s working there, so I’m getting a kick out of that. I have pictures of her and stuff like that.
Joe: Who knows? Maybe one of these days we’ll take a trip out there.
Q: Any advice for newly married couples?
A: Joe: Being alone is hell.
Helen: And that’s the problem. We’ve been lucky that we have each other at this age even. A lot of people that were here today, at the Senior Center, have lost their spouse.
Joe: Well, you gotta expect it when you get to be our age.
Q: Do you know other people who have met a partner at the Senior Center?
A: Helen: There’s a lot of people who have been married (after meeting at the Senior Center).
Joe: And there’s probably a lot we don’t know about.
There’s been people here who have gone together for a long time. They’re a partnership.
Helen: A lady was here today, she just lost her husband, a lovely man. But this kind of a place, when you lose somebody like this, you can’t sit around at home and mope. It’s better to get up and get out.