Ralph and Helen Ridge went on their first date 73 years ago.
As teenagers in love, he took her see a movie at the Richwood Theater. Today, weeks removed from their 67th wedding anniversary, the Taylor Township couple still drives into Richwood regularly. Every Tuesday and Friday, the inseparable duo delivers Memorial Meals to friends and neighbors who gather to eat at lunch at the Richwood Civic Center.
“I love the way that they’re always together and I love the way that he still looks at her,” said Gaybrielle Hastings, Executive Director of the Richwood Civic Center. “If you were to put them in a room full of people, you’d be able to watch his eyes and know the one that he’s in love with.”
“I went with her for five years and I was so enthralled with how good she looked that I didn’t realize what was going on,” joked Ralph. “Turns out, I was in training! We got married and I’m still in training.”
Throughout his life as a farmer, Ralph served on volunteer boards and elected committees. 14 years ago, he started running meals, picking them up at Memorial Hospital and delivering them to shut-ins throughout the county, Helen always at his side to help navigate.
“They talk about people being back seat drivers, but I sit in the front seat!” laughed Helen.
Stop in the Windsor and Community Seniors in Marysville most days and you’ll find Ray and Rose Pack. They’ve shared 41 years of marriage and have seven children, 16 grandchildren, and 17 great-grandchildren all living within a 50 mile radius. Now they share time serving others at the center – particularly during lunch hour.
“We came up to eat one time 18 years ago,” said Rose. “And after a month or so of watching how volunteers would wait tables, we thought, ‘We can do this!’ And so we did.”
Rose and Ray Pack
“They are just the cutest little couple and they’re always here,” said Stacy Penhorwood, Coordinator of the Windsor & Community Seniors. “They’re always so friendly and willing to lend a hand. They’re our champion bowlers, rolling perfect 300 games together all the time on the Wi.”
The Packs hit it off when Ray drummed up the nerve to knock on Rose’s front door at the urging of a neighbor. Little did Rose know it wasn’t a salesman calling, but her future husband! Their first date was dinner at Big Boy. Thousands of meals later, the Roses shared their secret to their long-lasting relationship.
“All people are different and you have to remember that in a marriage,” Ray said. “I don’t expect her to be just like me and she doesn’t expect me to be just like her either. So we just learn to give in to each other. If you don’t like something, you just go along with it anyway. That’s the way to get along.”
Combined, the Ridges and Roses have shared over a century of love with their families. They say sharing their love with the friends and neighbors they’ve met at the senior centers keeps them young.
“I’ve met so many nice people it’s unbelievable,” said Ralph Ridge. “They’ve all got smiles on their faces. There are no grumpy volunteers.”
“When you retire, you need something to do,” said Ray Rose. “Volunteering is a good thing. You can’t just sit around all the time. That’s not good. And what better thing to do than to help other people?”
Volunteer opportunities for couples (and singles) abound with United Way’s four funded senior centers in Union County and the Memorial Meals program. Those interested in getting involved can visit www.unitedwayofunioncounty.org or call (937) 644-8381.
United Way works to bring neighbors and resources together to improve lives in Union County. United Way of Union County has raised more than $19 million for local needs since it was established in 1958. More than just a fundraiser, United Way collaborates with local businesses, government, and non-profit organizations to solve pressing social service issues large and small.