When You Least Expect It: 88-year-old Single Woman Falls in Love, Weds After Whirlwind Romance

Betty plus Walter equals true love. (Philip G. Pavely/Tribune-Review)After nearly nine decades of being single, Betty Jane Allshouse had no shame about her Valentine's Day plans. She was moving into Masonic Village, a retirement community in Sewickley, Pennsylvania. And yes, she was doing it alone.

The 88-year-old had probably heard all the smug platitudes about love throughout her life: it happens when you least expect it, it's all about timing, you never know.

Growing up in an era before single women redefined the meaning of success, she probably also was familiar with the term "old maid".

"It didn’t bother me being single when I was younger, but all my friends were married," Betty told Yahoo! Shine in a phone interview from her room in the Pennsylvania retirement home. "It's not like I didn't date—I had plenty of boyfriends but they didn’t propose."

Betty may have been old-school when it came to proposals, but her independence also meant she was ahead of her time in the workplace. She was a life-long employee at Allegheny Ludlum, a Pennsylvania sheet metal company, where she supported herself as a member of the human resources team before eventually retiring. In that time, she stopped worrying about looking out for "the one" and chose to fill that role all on her own.

Then, as she puts it, "this one came along."

The worst dating advice that won't go away

That "one" would be Walter Lowman, a fellow Masonic Village resident, 10 years her junior. "He's younger than I am, but he told me he didn't care how old I was," Betty tells Shine. The pair met a few months after she moved into the retirement complex when Walter, then a widow of 10 years, approached her at the dining hall and asked to join her for a meal. Betty was instantly taken aback, because as she puts it, "most of the people down here don't talk." Cue magic tent--or something like it.

"I guess it was love at first sight for him—and also for me," she told Pittsburgh's Tribune-Review. "The next day, I thought, 'well, this is good,' and I kept after him."

Their dinner conversations became more regular and lingered on after dessert. Six months later, Walter was ready for the next step—one that Betty hadn't ever taken. Walter's son had come to visit to "check her out," recalls Betty. Soon after, Walter popped the question. Betty's response was understandable considering the fixed course her life had taken before that moment. "I told him I'd have to think about it," she laughed. She wasn't joking. She took 24 hours to consider whether after all this time alone she really wanted a partner. Then she thought: "Why not? I'll have a new friend."

Meet the world's oldest newlyweds

Six months is fast by most standards. Betty still isn't clear what Walter did for a living before retiring. (She thinks he was an investment banker.) But when you're 88 and you just know, you really know.

Still, Betty's friends were shocked. This from the woman who'd said she'd "given up" on marriage? 

In November, the couple wed in a small ceremony at the retirement home. Betty's pastor, Rev. Cameron Malcolm, for the last 25 years, was on hand to oversee the vows. "She was the happiest I've ever seen her," he told the Tribune-Review.

Walter's grown daughter, Melissa Lowman Callaway, was also on hand cheering the couple on. "I could tell she was just a great person and loved my dad, and he loved her," Callaway told the Tribune-Review. She's now so close with her new stepmother, they speak on the phone almost every night. As with most couples who've been living together before marriage, the big day hasn't changed Betty and Walter's life drastically.

His room is still catty-corner to hers in the retirement home, but now they don't wait for dinner to hang out. "We go back and forth between them on our wheelchairs," said Betty.

There was no honeymoon, no bridal meltdown, and no pre-wedding jitters on the big day. Any regrets? "No way," she told Shine. With Betty dressed in a white pantsuit holding a bouquet of orchids, the couple sealed the deal with a song they felt captured the spirit of their first meeting. It was "Some Enchanted Evening" from the musical "South Pacific."

Someone who thinks they understand the nature of love might tell you this surprise romance is proof of the importance of timing, maturity, or being open to possibility.

That someone probably wasn't listening close enough to the lyrics of "Some Enchanted Evening":
Who can explain it? Who can tell you why? Fools give you reasons, Wise men never try.

Related video:

Check out another awesome time-honored love story.

Related links:
The single girl revolution
Tips for single women from 1938
Macy's longest serving employee retires