NEWBERRY — Glenn and Ruth Melton have set out to make a difference in the lives of Newberry County senior citizens out of love for each other and the David Waldrop Senior Center in Newberry.
Their goal, Glenn said, is to create a group for senior citizens ages 60 and older to find companions. He and his wife have already met with several interested people, but are looking for more interest. The Meltons’ passion comes from their own experience.
Born in Alabama and raised in Tennessee, Glenn was first married and had three children.
“I moved to Newberry in 1969, came through Batesburg Leesville where Ruth was born,” he said. “I didn’t know it at the time.”
In 2010, Glenn said his life changed when his wife of 59 1/2 years passed away. Seven or so months after, he visited a theater in Myrtle Beach he and his wife had always loved to visit. It was then he noticed an elderly couple holding hands during the show. He began to reminisce.
“I had a hard time getting through the program,” Glenn said. “I came home, talked to my three children and said I have got to find a new companion.”
With his children’s blessings, Glenn said he began to search for a companion.
Glenn’s search for a companion began with him joining the Newberry Opera House Ambassadors group and visiting Newberry’s senior center. Shortly after, a group of people including himself took a trip to the Little Mountain senior center where a mutual friend introduced him to Ruth.
A few weeks after their introduction, friend Reba Lester convinced Ruth to visit Newberry’s senior center.
“She (Reba) told me that woman (Ruth) wouldn’t be available long,” Glenn said.
Lester invited Glenn out to dinner with several other friends to Farm Boy’s restaurant in Chapin. When Glenn called Ruth and invited her, her first response was no, but after consideration called him back and accepted.
Ruth said their meeting wasn’t exactly love at first sight. “I wasn’t searching the way he was,” she said.
Ruth’s former husband had emphysema and cancer. The two were married close to 50 years before he passed away.
United in marriage
After four months of dating, Glenn said he popped the question. “We dated for four months, together daily and I proposed on one knee and she said yes,” he said.
The Melton’s were married April 3, 2012, at Newberry’s Senior Center — the first couple to be married there. Glenn was 78, Ruth 75 at the time.
“At the center, they called us ‘antique teenagers,’” Glenn said.
The two went to Myrtle Beach on their honeymoon, followed by a five-day cruise to Nassau, Bahamas. Ruth sold her house in Pomaria, bought a patio home in Lexington and moved in with Glenn in Newberry following the wedding.
Life after marriage
Glenn and Ruth say they visit the senior center almost daily. “It’s the ‘in place’ to be Monday through Friday,” Glenn said.
At the senior center, there are many activities they enjoy including cards, bingo, music, meals, sewing, bible study, and singing.
The couple also enjoys singing with the RSVP Singers group and travels to nursing homes in both Newberry and Saluda counties to sing two to four times per week. They also enjoy gardening and yard work.
“We spend many hours swinging in the carport, listening to waterfalls, wind chimes and smelling the roses, watching the birds and airplanes go by,” Glenn said. “Life is good for us and God has been so great to us. Someone upstairs had a hand in us getting together, no doubt.”
Glenn said their only goal is to help others find happiness after the loss of their first love, as they are proof you can find love after the death of a loved one.
The group has began meeting every Monday at 9 a.m. at the Burger King in Newberry. After speaking with the restaurant’s manager, they were told if 10 or more people showed up to meet that they would be moved into a larger, more private room there.
“Everyone is invited to meet new friends,” Glenn said.
Although there are groups in local churches for these age groups, Glenn said there was no central location for them to come together, which is how the idea began.
Once the group gets going, the Meltons say they will back out as the group would be for singles only.
“I feel there’s a real need for this program in Newberry County,” he said. “I want to help others who wish they could find someone like we did.”