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Love is in the air

Remarriage among older Americans on the rise

Created date

May 12th, 2016
Ashby Ponds residents Wes and Rose Kriebel

Representing a nationwide increase in remarriage, Ashby Ponds residents Wes and Rose Kriebel found love.

“For it was not into my ear you whispered, but into my heart. It was not my lips you kissed, but my soul.” —Judy Garland

While news reports focus on increasing divorce rates and the growing trend for young singles to wait longer to marry, research finds that older adults are now more likely to remarry than at any other time in recent history. According to a Pew Research survey, 50% of previously married seniors had remarried in 2013, up from 34% in 1960.

In the recent story “Remarriage on the Rise, Driven by Older Americans,” The Wall Street Journal further explores this growing trend, reporting that an analysis by the U.S. Census Bureau of its 2008–2012 American Community Survey “suggests that while marriage has declined in the U.S. since the 1960s, remarriage, especially among older Americans, is on the rise.”

Just 11 days after moving to Ashby Ponds, an Erickson Living community in Ashburn, Va., Wes and Rose Kriebel wed and pledged their lives to each other in a beautiful ceremony at the community’s chapel. 

Joining them in celebration were almost 50 of their immediate family members who, following the ceremony, enjoyed an elegant reception at Ashby Ponds’ Windows restaurant. 

The couple first met more than 40 years ago during a bridge club event in State College, Pa.  At that time, Wes was a professor of agricultural economics and Rose’s former husband was a professor of electrical engineering at Penn State University.  

Thoughtful sentiments

Numbers, statistics, and trends were the furthest things from Wes and Rose’s minds when they reconnected two years ago. Rather, it was an outpouring of kindness that brought the two together. 

Following the July 2013 death of Jean Kriebel, Wes’s wife of 60 years, Rose, who herself had been married for 39 years, sent a kind note of sympathy. 

A year later, as Wes was looking through the sympathy cards, he re-read the note from Rose and decided to reach out to his old friend. 

In August of 2014, Wes offered to travel from his home in Vienna, Va., to dog sit at his son’s farm in Pennsylvania. During that week he invited Rose, who was living in the Philadelphia area, to lunch. It was a life-changing decision.

“The first lunch went so well that we drifted into dinner!” says Rose.  

It also became the first of many meals that the couple would share together.

“In the ensuing months, we came to know Interstate 95 very well,” says Wes.

Eight months after that first lunch, the couple decided to get married, sell their houses, and find a home together where they could enjoy a new life and their retirement years. 

Choosing Ashby Ponds, the Kriebels now live near four of their combined seven children. They also share 15 grandchildren. 

Building a new life

As newlyweds, Wes and Rose share a common love of music and traveling. 

A pianist, Rose has played for the past 41 years and recently began playing for Ashby Ponds’ interfaith church services. 

As a former member of Sweet Adelines, Inc., Rose sang for 34 years with the all-women barbershop singers. Since moving to Ashby Ponds, she’s joined the community’s Songbirds choral group.  

Wes is also a longtime member of barbershop organizations, including the Fairfax JubilAires, the Harmony Heritage Singers, and the quartet Special Blend. He is currently rehearsing with other men at Ashby Ponds in the hopes of forming a new vocal group at the community. 

Most recently, Wes performed “Singing Valentines” with the quartet. Similar to singing telegrams, the performances served as a fundraiser for local charities. 

In celebration of their first Valentine’s Day as husband and wife, Wes and Rose recently traveled by autotrain to Sarasota, Fla. The two spent six sunny weeks traversing the gulf coast, taking in a baseball spring training game, visiting Disney World, venturing into the Everglades to visit fellow Ashby Ponds friends on vacation, and catching up with numerous friends and relatives.

“Wes and I enjoy our new home at Ashby Ponds,” says Rose. “Our neighbors, surroundings, amenities, and food are wonderful. And being newly married, after all these years alone, is just great. Sharing our days and activities is fun and rewarding in surprising ways. It makes living worthwhile again. Hope springs eternal, and so does love! Too corny for words, but too true to keep it quiet.”