Lifelong friends finally realize in their late 60s that it’s time to say ‘I do’
photo by: Kathy Hanks
In 1966, Barbara Bosley asked Stan Jones to the Sadie Hawkins dance at Dighton High School.
Then, 49 years later, they shared their first kiss.
The couple, who recently moved to Lawrence, recalled the dance, popular in the 1960s when girls demurely waited to be asked on a date. A Sadie Hawkins dance was a girl’s chance to do the asking.
photo by: Contributed photoi
The two had known each other since 1957, when Stan was the new kid in her second-grade class. Over the years, they always counted on each other as friends. Even when he went off to the University of Kansas and she attended Kansas State University, he would stop in Manhattan during school breaks to drive Barbara back to Dighton, a small town in western Kansas.
They told their story on a recent afternoon in the home they just purchased on Lawrence’s west side. Now retired, they left her small condominium in Denver to move to Lawrence to be closer to family and friends.
Paintings sat on the floor waiting to be hung. The new sofa and dining set would be arriving any day from Nebraska Furniture Mart. They seemed like any young couple setting up their first home. But they are both 69. They were 68 when they married. For Barbara, it was the first time to say “I do.”
These days, Americans are marrying later in life, according to the Pew Research Center. In a 2016 survey, the median age for a first marriage was up seven years from 1960, when the median age was 20 for women and 23 for men. Stan and Barbara well exceed that statistic.
Marriage was never on Barbara’s radar. Not that she was opposed, she said, but she didn’t date much. After college, she had a career in publishing in New York City, then returned to Kansas to attend law school at Washburn University. In 1995, as an attorney, she went to work as a family court facilitator in Colorado.
Through it all, she never missed a high school reunion. From afar, she would organize the events and would communicate with Stan, who lived in Las Vegas, to help track down fellow classmates.
Stan moved to Las Vegas in the early 1970s, first working at a casino, then going into the construction business. He married in 1974 and had three children. While he enjoyed the trips back to Dighton, he didn’t make every reunion.
But he did show up in 2015. By then he had been divorced for almost a decade. He wasn’t interested in dating. However, he said he valued the lifelong friendships he made in Dighton.
Barbara laughed at what first connected them in 2015 at the weekend event.
“He looked at the marks on my legs, which were from a medication I take, and we realized we took the same medication,” she said. Barbara has a form of lupus, and Stan has rheumatoid arthritis; they take the same kind of pill every day.
It was strange how things came together the night at the reunion dance, Stan said.
“They were playing a slow song, and I thought ‘I should ask Barbara to dance,'” he said. “I took a couple of steps and then I thought ‘Nah.’ And I start to go back. It was like the devil and the angel talking to me. And then I thought ‘Go ask her to dance.’ Something made me go over.”
He admits to being shy. After all, here it was practically a half century after the Sadie Hawkins dance, and he made his move.
The band was playing “Stand by Me.” As they danced, Barbara felt the connection to how they had stood by each other as friends all those years.
But there were also other thoughts.
“My biggest worry was that I would step on his feet,” she said.
“She did step on my feet,” he said.
“He held me really close. I remember thinking ‘This is awful close,'” she said.
Walking off the dance floor, Stan turned and kissed her.
“That’s not like me either,” he said. ” I don’t know what drove me to do that. I usually ask permission.”
“It wasn’t just a peck on the cheek; it was right on the lips,” she said.
Their first kiss, at 65, began a chain of events.
Barbara admits feeling like a teenager again with waves of emotions; she began asking herself if there was something between them. He stopped by her mother’s house the next day with a group of friends, acting like the same old Stan, as though they had never kissed. As he was leaving Barbara thought there needed to be something between them; she needed to give him something. The only thing she could think of was her business card.
“It was just a dance and a kiss,” Stan said. “Looking back it seems like a big thing. But at the time I wasn’t thinking much about it.”
However, he texted her a week later and thanked her for dancing with him.
She texted back that the next time he was in Denver she would like to give him a tour.
The tour was to a cabin in the mountains, off the grid, where they watched hummingbirds and laughed, never running out of things to say.
By then it was hard to say goodbye. He was now living in California, and they began taking turns flying back and forth.
On Christmas 2017 he gave her an engagement ring.
“I wasn’t expecting it,” she said. But she didn’t hesitate to say yes.
photo by: Contributed photo
Then, on July 29, 2018, they married. The wedding brought together their families and so many friends it was like another high school reunion.
“It’s nice to have somebody to share things with,” she said.
There have been adjustments to make.
“We have had to accept we have habits that won’t change,” Barbara said.
Plus, they are political opposites. Sometimes with age, though, comes tolerance.