Love Blooms for couple at East Ridge at Cutler Bay

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Finding love later in life defines the relationship of Gene Patterson and Roberta Dickerson, residents of the East Ridge at Cutler Bay, a life plan community.

The octogenarians tied the knot on Saturday, February 17 witnessed by their families and close friends and officiated by Dr. Mike Campbell, Senior Pastor of the Old Cutler Presbyterian Church. A reception in the East Ridge Lifestyle Center was celebrated with residents.

It began as a wink in the community’s dining room, explains Roberta. She noticed Gene was continually winking at her and she called her best friend to ask for advice. Her friend explained he probably was trying to get her attention. Gene pursued Roberta for several months with his flirtations but it wasn’t until he showed up at the community’s green house and asked her to lunch that she was smitten.

Their date, lunch at Bay Pointe Marina, lasted over three hours. The couple found they shared a wealth of commonalities from former friends in the Coral Gables area to an interest in farming and gardening. Gene is twice widowed and Roberta has been divorced for over 30 years.

They dated for more than a year, initially dining together in the East Ridge dining room and later sitting next to each other at community events.

Gene kept telling Roberta she’d be his wife one day. They found they enjoyed simply doing things together. Roberta who enjoys cooking would prepare something for the couple to enjoy at her house rather than dine out. And, from taking trips to meet families and friends, people felt Gene was terrific for Roberta and Roberta was perfect for Gene.

Because Gene, 84, wanted to claim he married a “much younger woman”, they decided to marry before April 1 when Roberta will turn 80.

At their age, Roberta believes love is the only reason to marry. Rather than cohabitate, they believe in the institution of marriage.

Roberta’s advice to others contemplating dating: “Listen to your heart. Life is for living and don’t let your past hold you back. Value your partner and be positive”. She also believes it’s important to talk about former spouses in a kind way and remember the good times you had with that person.

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