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Fun-loving couple celebrates life together

Brad and Marna Keith find second chance for love at Highland Springs

Created date

February 8th, 2016
Brad and Marna Keith
Brad and Marna Keith

Brad and Marna Keith have more than a century of marriage experience between them.

Brad was married to his first wife Donna, his high school sweetheart, for 58 years. Marna was married to her first husband John for 48 years.

“We had that in common,” says Marna. “We were both happily married for a long time.”

Longevity wasn’t the only similarity in Brad and Marna’s situations.

Marna and John were planning to move to Highland Springs, the Erickson Living community in North Dallas, when John passed away in January 2010. 

“John and I lived in Richardson since 1964,” says Marna. “We saw Highland Springs as it was built. One day I stopped in to get a brochure just to see what Highland Springs was all about. We liked the lifestyle and amenities it offered.”

New neighbors

Marna decided to go ahead with the planned move but opted to downsize to a smaller apartment than she’d initially chosen.

“I talked it over with my son, and he advised me to go with a smaller apartment and use the savings to travel and have fun,” says Marna. “So I moved into a one-bedroom, one-bath apartment with a balcony.”

Brad and Donna were also planning to move to Highland Springs when Donna passed away in May 2011. 

“I got lonely by myself,” says Brad. “I decided to go ahead and move to Highland Springs in September 2011.”

Brad, too, opted to downsize from his initial floor plan, choosing instead a one-bedroom, one-and-a-half-bath apartment with an extended sunroom.

“That put him right across the hall from me,” says Marna, who went over to introduce herself to her new neighbor.

Over the next few weeks, the couple continued to run into each other until Brad invited Marna to lunch.

“We sat and talked for hours,” says Marna.

Low-key wedding

It didn’t take Brad and Marna long to decide that their future included each other. Planning a wedding was another story.

“We had friends at Highland Springs, I had friends at church, Brad had friends at his church, and he knew people through his Rotary Club,” says Marna. “We just couldn’t figure out how to plan a wedding that included everyone.”

Avoiding the conflict altogether, Brad and Marna eloped on December 1, 2011. Brad’s friend, a justice of the peace, married the couple.

“We didn’t tell anyone,” says Marna. “We asked Ellen Vanderslice [Highland Springs resident] to announce it in chapel after we had already left on our honeymoon. It was the surprise of the century for most residents.”

The couple returned to Highland Springs, Marna moved across the hall into Brad’s apartment, and they plunged back into life at the community. 

On-the-go couple

Brad, who retired as athletic director and associate dean of health, physical education, and recreation at Slippery Rock University in Pennsylvania, serves on the Conservation Committee at Highland Springs.

Marna, a retired teacher, volunteers her time on the Welcome Committee, Resident Life Committee, and Circle of Friends.

They’re also using their time to travel and visit family.

“My two sons and their families live in Richardson, but I’m one of ten children and I have extended family in Arizona and Minnesota,” says Marna. “Brad has two daughters in North Texas, and another daughter in Pennsylvania. He also has grandchildren in New York and Vermont.”

Asked to describe their relationship in three words, Brad and Marna choose “fun, active, and companionship.”

“This season of life is way better than either of us could have imagined,” says Marna. “We’re so thankful to have this life together at Highland Springs.”