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Cupid's second chance

Couple who met at Eagle's Trace celebrate one-year anniversary

Created date

March 22nd, 2010

When Noel Thomas moved to Eagle s Trace in June 2008, he was second-guessing his decision to purchase a two-bedroom apartment home. It was just me, he says. I didn t need the extra space. How could he have known that in the span of a few months, his home and his heart would be filled to overflowing? Widowed since 2004, Thomas had been living in a 4,300-square-foot house in Katy when he began looking at retirement communities in Houston. My place was big and beautiful, he says, but it was more house than I needed. Thomas, a retired lieutenant colonel in the U.S. Army, spent the last half of his career conducting special operations for the Department of Defense. He put his investigative skills to use when researching his options for a move.  I looked at virtually every place in the city, he says. I attended a number of priority list events at Eagle s Trace and met some great people. I knew this was what I was looking for a community with active people and a lot to do. The priority list is made up of a group of people who have put down a fully refundable $1,000 deposit to reserve their place in line for the apartment home of their choice. I looked at three or four floor plans, says Thomas, but when a Lancaster [corner two-bedroom, two bath with sunroom] became available, I jumped on it. A month after Thomas moved to Eagle s Trace, a chance encounter altered the course of his life.

Plans change

One of the other residents asked if I would like to meet a lady on the priority list who was coming to the community for dinner, says Thomas. That was the first time I met Emily. A widow for 18 years, Emily Heisler lived in Sugar Land at the time. Her life was filled with family, painting, and volunteer work. I was busy, she says. I did a lot of volunteering for the AIDS Foundation. I was on the board of the Museum of Fine Arts Guild and the Alley Theatre Guild. One of my daughters lived in Germany, so I traveled to see her a lot. I took art classes and painted. My plan was to stay on the priority list for 5 or 6 years, attend a few events, and then decide if I wanted to move. All that was rushed along once I met Noel, she says. He was such a sweetheart. I didn t think men like that existed anymore. Although the attraction was mutual, it wasn t until an Eagle s Trace-sponsored trip to Louisiana that they really got to know each other.

Rolling the dice

I signed up to go on a trip to Coushatta Casino Resort, says Thomas. When I got on the bus, I saw Emily with an open seat next to her. I asked her if she was saving it for someone and she replied that she was saving it for me. The pair chatted during the entire bus ride to Louisiana, spent time together at the casino, and sat next to each other on the ride home. The courtship progressed through the fall and before the year was out, he had picked out an engagement ring. I was going to ask her to marry me on New Year s Eve 2008, he says. I picked up the ring on December 29 or 30 and decided I couldn t wait. I drove over to her house and proposed that night. The couple married on April 19, 2009, surrounded by family and loved ones. We got married at the Catholic church in Rosenberg, says Mr. Thomas. It was pretty unique. Emily s two daughters walked her down the aisle, and my two daughters stood with me at the front of the church. Our kids were all thrilled about the wedding, adds Mrs. Thomas. Now they don t worry about mom and dad anymore.

In good company

The Thomases have spent their first year of married life melding two households. Now I know why I got a two-bedroom apartment! says Mr. Thomas. When Emily moved in, we had to combine all our furniture. But everything flows well and it s very comfortable. The couple also makes time to do the things they enjoy together. We both work out six days at week in the fitness center, says Mr. Thomas. We are members of the wine club. And we travel quite a bit. Last year, we went on an Alaskan cruise and a Caribbean cruise. As the couple look forward to their first anniversary, they reflect on the events that brought them together. I didn t think I d ever get married again, says Mr. Thomas, but I ve learned to never say never. Mrs. Thomas nods in agreement. I still can t believe, she adds, that I found someone who is so wonderful in every way.