It’s never too late for love

It’s never too late for love

Gerry Robidoux, 65, and Fran Roy, 70, recently celebrated their engagement. The couple met while attending the St. Joseph and St. Agatha Seniors clubs.
Friendship leads to engagement for local senior club members

WOONSOCKET – He was a former engineer, retired from a career of programming submarines at Newport’s Naval Undersea Warfare Center. She was a former housekeeper and nurse’s aide, also ready to sail into retirement after a lifetime of raising children and odd jobs.

Gerry Robidoux, 65, and Fran Roy, 70, both came to the city’s church-based senior groups about 10 years ago to remain active with their newfound time. They came for the community and the chance to travel, and, as Robidoux put it, because “you don’t want to stay home and just look at the four walls.”

But what they found was much more.

Robidoux and Roy, both city residents, recently celebrated their engagement with members of the St. Joseph Seniors and St. Agatha Seniors, to which they both belong. It was a relationship that grew out of their close friendship in the two groups, and was sparked one day by a chance encounter out shopping.

“I’m in a store, and she hit me with a carriage cart,” Robidoux laughed. “That was like thunder hitting.”

The Walmart encounter might have been the “lightning strike” that spurred the relationship, but the friendship that came first was years in the making. When Roy first joined the seniors’ groups, she attended meetings with her husband, John. John died in 2013, but Fran remained active in the groups, serving as vice president of the St. Joseph Seniors and secretary at St. Agatha’s. Robidoux, who had never married, was also active in the clubs, serving as president of the St. Agatha Seniors.

The two worked well together in their leadership roles, laughing and enjoying their time running meetings. In 2016, Robidoux asked her to dinner to celebrate his birthday. Roy, reluctant at first, was soon convinced, and the two had their first evening out together at the Roast House.

“I just never thought of going on a date or anything,” she said.

One date turned into two, and soon, they were going to movies, casinos and even took a trip down to Iggy’s and the beach, something neither had done in many years.

In October, Robidoux took Roy to the Wrentham Outlets to pick out some jewelry for a birthday present. She got in the car thinking she’d pick out earrings or a necklace, but it wasn’t until they arrived he told her he had something else in mind.

“He says, I really want to get you something shiny and bright,” she recalled. “I really want to get you an engagement ring.”

Like their first date, Roy took some convincing. After all, it had been many years since she walked down the aisle, and Robidoux had family commitments, caring for his 91-year-old father. But he was persistent, and the engagement, it seems, was meant to be.

“I really love being with Fran. Believe it or not, I felt I found my soul mate. My one and only,” he said.

They kept the purchase a secret until Christmas Eve, when they announced the engagement to their families during a party at the Italian Workingmen’s Club. The reaction was one of surprise and happiness, with family members congratulating them throughout the evening. At the next club meeting, members surprised them with a cake and flowers. It was a happy occasion for members, though not the first, according to Robidoux and Roy. Several other couples, they said, have also met through the clubs, including one that resulted in an engagement about 10 years ago.

“It does happen quite a bit, believe it or not. I think it’s nice that it does happen,” said Robidoux.

While not everyone finds love in the seniors’ group, he added that many who attend find close friendships in the groups’ meetings and social activities. He encouraged any senior looking to stay engaged with their community to join a club. No one, he said, should be alone, and for him and Fran, friendship was just the first step in a loving relationship.

“We always had fun,” he said. “Friendship I think is probably the key to all this, and we’re super friends.”

Roy shows off her new engagement ring. (Breeze photo by Lauren Clem)