Tribune Print Share Text

When friendship grows

Devonshire couple goes from widowed to wedded

Created date

December 13th, 2016
Devonshire newlyweds Ann and Bill Withers sit at a table for two in Cavendish Café, their favorite clubhouse restaurant.

Devonshire newlyweds Ann and Bill Withers sit at a table for two in Cavendish Café, their favorite clubhouse restaurant.

For all the activities and events that filled Devonshire at PGA National’s calendar this year, one significant event remained a secret at Erickson Living’s retirement community in Palm Beach Gardens.

On May 1, members Ann Putnam and Bill Withers exchanged wedding vows at Lost Tree Village Chapel.

Some weeks later, a neighbor asked Ann, “Is the rumor true?” When Ann fessed up, word spread throughout the Devonshire community.

The newlyweds had met at Devonshire 12 years ago before either was widowed. Bill’s wife Jackie and Ann quickly became best friends.

When Ann’s husband passed, she moved to Texas for two years, until her love for Devonshire and her many friends there motivated her to move back.

Upon Ann’s return, she, the Withers, and Jackie’s other good friend became a foursome. They dined together in Devonshire’s top-tier restaurants and attended after-dinner entertainment in Churchill Lounge.

“There’s an active social life here that’s generally centered around the evening meal,” says Bill. “It’s a nice friendly group of people at Devonshire.” 

Character and kindness

Once when Jackie was ill, Ann sent her yellow roses because she knew they were Jackie’s favorite. 

In fact, she sent them whenever Jackie was ill. “I thought that was a nice thing to do,” Bill says.

For her part, Ann has never forgotten the Withers’ thoughtfulness in asking her to lunch at Lost Tree Village shortly after her husband died. 

When Jackie’s health began to fail, Bill and Ann became her caregivers. 

“I really knew only two things about Ann then,” says Bill. “Jackie said, ‘She’s a lady, and she has character.’” 

Those might have been the only things he knew, but they proved to be the most important things. 

A table for two

After Bill was widowed, the threesome continued to dine together, and Ann frequently asked Bill in for coffee afterward. They’d known one another for years; were compatible; and had shared interests in plays, concerts, and dining out.

Throughout their friendship, Ann had never flirted with Bill. But one evening something changed in their relationship. And on a subsequent evening when she and Bill came to dinner, they sat at a table for two. “That was the start,” Ann says.

Some months later, Bill said, “Let’s get married,” and she agreed.

In April they took a three-week trip to France and England. “We say we took the honeymoon first,” says Ann.

This September, they traveled to Pennsylvania and West Point and, for an adventure, took Amtrak back to West Palm Beach. 

It was a good trip, but it was good to come home to Devonshire. “We love it here,” Ann says.