Minn. Seniors Risk Falling - to Fall in Love

Updated: 02/14/2013 8:20 PM KSTP.com By: Mark Saxenmeyer

Eighty-year-olds and ice skates might not seem like a wise, or logical, combination. But on this Valentine's day, some Twin Cities seniors are willing to risk a fall--if it means falling in love.

At the Vadnais Heights Sports Center, Don Schoen's organ-playing prowess is like a musical Cupid. Every Thursday morning, grey-haired gliders groove to his tunes.

There's no telling who among them might be the next Glenn and Beth West. She's 71, he's turning 80. Beth's first marriage lasted 47 years; Glenn became a widower after 33. A new romance wasn't on either of their minds.

Glenn explained, "People would ask me if I ever wanted to get married again, and I'd say, 'If I meet the right person I will. But I'm not actively looking'."

Beth added, "I wasn't either."

But on the ice, they slid into an easy courtship and married two years after meeting, in 2007. They credit the ice, and the skating. "We have enough endorphins in this place to give some away!" Beth said, gesturing to all the other skating couples.

Don and his wife used to skate too, but she died in 2004. Since then he's been playing solo.

"The music keeps me busy," he said.

But he still has hope for pairs skating in the future.

"I suppose I've never given up on that thought, yeah," he admitted.

And then there are the SENIOR seniors, 90-year-old Don Rooney and 93-year-old Clemene Mccarthy. "I do anything I want," Don said. "And the only prescription I take is Snickers," he added, laughing.

Clemene fell and broke her leg on the ice last year. Thursday was her first day back.

"I really felt good," she said.

She's a widow and he's a widower. They've been skating pals since the 1930s. But as for intimacy off the ice, "Oh oh no no no!" they exclaimed in unison, laughing. "We're just the greatest of friends, that's it," Don said.

 "Just good friends," Clemene agreed.

Still, there's no denying the blades on this ice can send off sparks. And the music can make hearts skate a beat.

Mark Saxenmeyer can be reached at msaxenmeyer@kstp.com