It’s commonplace nowadays for younger generations of Americans to get married much later in life than their parents did.
“Love is the most exciting thing in the world,” said Bill Mielke. At 85 years old, he recently wed his new love, 82-year-old Edie Humphrey.
“They’re like two little love birds,” said Jim Gordon, director of recreation at the nursing home where they live and the man in charge of planning their wedding. “They really are really in love. Everyone sees it.”
After meeting at the Bethlehem Commons at Good Samaritan Village Nursing Home and Rehabilitation Center in Delmar, the two said they were attracted to each other immediately. Mielke proposed to Humphrey a mere month after their meeting, and although Humphrey was surprised, she did not hesitate to accept.
Their Aug. 22 wedding took place at Bethlehem Commons Chapel, with family and residents present. Gordon said the wedding has been the talk of the town at the nursing home.
“It’s funny, everyone here knows Bill and Edie’s story, even the ones who live in different units. It’s really captured everyone’s hearts,” said Gordon.
Humphrey and Mielke, and their respective families, say all of the residents and staff at Bethlehem Commons have been very supportive of their courtship. The couple hopes marrying so late in life will give people something happy and hopeful to think about.
“Never give up on love. It could be just around the corner,” said Humphrey.
Mielke had been living at Bethlehem Commons for a more than two years before Humphrey arrived in April for hip therapy. After meeting Mielke, she decided to leave her apartment in Albany, and live full-time at the nursing home.
It was Humphrey’s impressive education and her “smiling eyes” that first caught Mielke’s attention. She, in turn, said it was Mielke’s eyes that attracted her, as well as his impressive vocabulary.
“You just don’t think you’re going to be that lucky this late in life,” said Humphrey. “It’s not something that either of us expected to find, but we are both just thrilled that we found each other.”
She said she plans on taking Mielke’s last name, and loves to show off the engagement ring he gave her.
At the ceremony, she wore a new blue dress and carried a bouquet provided by the nursing home. Bethlehem Commons provided Mielke with a boutonniere and refreshments for the residents. Mielke’s family then took the newlyweds out to dinner.
The marriage is Humphrey’s second and Mielke’s third. He said the companionship of marriage was always something he enjoyed, and he immediately knew he had found love with Humphrey, so he wanted that same atmosphere with his new love.
Now that they are married, the pair will move into a shared room. The nursing home they live in has certain rules as to the amount of contact men and women can have under their care. The couple said the privacy this new arrangement will provide was another motivating factor for the marriage.
Mielke had seven children with his wife of 15 years, and another daughter with has second wife. He lived in Selkirk, and then in Delmar for his entire life. He worked as a truck dispatcher in Albany for more than 40 years before coming to the nursing home.
Humphrey last married when she was a 21-year-old senior in college in 1953. That marriage lasted 50 years. She and her husband, who died in 2003, raised two children. She now has four grandsons and is a breast cancer survivor as of 2012.
Though she grew up in Ohio, Humphrey lived most of her life locally as a speech teacher at Scotia-Glenville schools in the ‘70s and ‘80s, before working as a medical social worker at Ellis Hospital for another ten years.
Their ceremony was officiated by Mielke’s son-in-law Lou Giampaglia, who is the pastor at King’s Chapel in Glenmont.
“They do a lot of reminiscing together,” said Giampaglia. “They both lived very full lives, so they have a lot to talk about.” He and his wife Mary Beth, Mielke’s daughter, have fully supported the marriage and have even been known to chaperone dates for the pair.
Mielke said he and his new wife have enjoyed many of the events in their past lives and are now looking toward their future. For him, happiness in life comes from a person’s outlook.
As both Mielke and Humphrey are devout Christians, they see their meeting as an act of God’s providence.
The two said they are very excited to live out their remaining years together at the nursing home that brought them together.
“We seek out happy, social affairs,” said Mielke. “We keep our bodies going with daily exercises, so we’re both healthy. It all comes down to companionship, though.”