Lewiston man, 88, marries Auburn woman, 87, after dating 17 years

Posted Nov. 16, 2011, at 5:17 a.m.
Ann Thayer, 87, reacts as Paul Walker, 88, pulls her close shortly after getting married at Marshwood Center in Lewiston on Tuesday. The couple had dated for 17 years. &quotShe finally said yes," said Thayer's daughter, Jacklyn Otterson of Readfield.
Daryn Slover | Sun Journal
Ann Thayer, 87, reacts as Paul Walker, 88, pulls her close shortly after getting married at Marshwood Center in Lewiston on Tuesday. The couple had dated for 17 years. "She finally said yes," said Thayer's daughter, Jacklyn Otterson of Readfield.

LEWISTON, Maine — They sat in padded armchairs facing each other, holding hands, Paul Walker with a corsage on his orange T-shirt, Ann Thayer in a smart black pantsuit.

In front of family and friends and a lobby filled with soft jazz on Tuesday afternoon, the ceremony was sweet, simple and quick, right up ’til the end.

“I don’t think I’ve seen a bride and groom kiss three times,” said Administrator Sheri Nadell after watching what was, to her knowledge, Marshwood Center’s first wedding.

Walker, 88, and Thayer, 87, had dated 17 years. They decided last week to make it official.

It was his third wedding, her second. Walker is staying at the nursing care center while he rehabilitates. Thayer visits every day.

Walker, of Lewiston, and Thayer, of Auburn, met at an Auburn church. She said the couple found themselves at Central Maine Medical Center on Thursday when staff teasingly broached the idea of wedded bliss.

“All those nurses said, ‘You’ve been together how long? Why didn’t you ever get married?’ Paul looked at me, ‘You want to do it?’ I said, ‘OK, well, when?’ ‘Right now,’” she said. “We’ve had some beautiful years together.”

After insisting they didn’t want much fuss, Nadell pulled together the ceremony in the newly renovated lobby, arranging chairs, stringing white tulle, sprinkling rose petals and making sure they had cake and punch. Dozens of people sat in chairs and leaned against the walls during the brief ceremony and filtered by afterward to offer congratulations.

“I think it’s sweet,” said Yvonne Wilkinson, Walker’s daughter-in-law. “I just don’t know why they waited so long.”

Thayer said they’ve kicked around the idea of going to Bermuda for a honeymoon once Walker feels better.

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