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Real-Life Golden Bachelors and Bachelorettes Find Love Later in Life

Five 50-plus couples share their epic adventures in ageless romance    

spinner image From left: Jackie and Joseph; Barry and Joe; Joan and Mac; Adam and Nicole; Jill and Lee
And the winner is … real-life people! Love after 50 isn’t just for popular TV; it happens all the time. Five couples share the stories of how they met and the ways they keep their relationships strong.
Courtesy Jackie Joseph and David Lawrence; Barry Wendell and Rabbi Joseph Hample; Joan Price and Mac Marshall; Nicole and Adam Lewis; Jill Rothenberg Lee and Ray Jackson / Getty Images

True love never gets old. On 'The Golden Bachelor,' widowed Indiana retiree Gerry Turner, 72, finally found his soulmate — a journey that began in September with 22 contestants between the ages of 60 and 75 and ended with a proposal to Theresa. The program is a reminder that older people aren’t immune to the charms of Cupid’s arrow. These five real-life couples all found their heart’s match well into midlife. Here’s how they dove headfirst into love’s embrace and gathered the roses of affection.   

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spinner image Nicole and Adam Lewis pictured when they were young and when they got married
Nicole and Adam Lewis reunited decades later, after Adam did some “growing up” and Nicole figured out the kind of partner she wanted.
Courtesy of Nicole and Adam Lewis / Getty Images

Met at 17, split at 22, married at 50

Nicole Lewis, 56, and Adam Lewis, 58

Location: Pittsburgh

Status: Married since May 2022

First Blushes. As a freshman at the University of Pittsburgh in 1989, Nicole met her future hubby at an intersection on campus, where Adam, also a Pitt undergrad, cautioned her not to stand in the bus lane. “It was my desperate, corny way to break the ice,” he says. That sparked a relationship that lasted six years, until Nicole broke things off. “I had this thing back then about a dream man with the suit and the house — the good-on-paper guy, not the struggling musician,” she says. They went their separate ways in 1995. Nicole married and divorced twice, Adam got engaged, and they both had children. After two decades apart, Nicole tracked down her old boo, whom she still calls “bus lane.”

The Secret Sauce. “I did a lot of growing up,” says Adam, who became a popular Pittsburgh radio personality in the intervening years. “It wasn’t just gainful employment. It was learning to take care of myself universally so I could take care of someone else.” Adds Nicole, a human resources executive for a financial services company, “The fact that we took a detour, and then got a second chance — it somehow doubled our respect and love and gratitude for each other.”

Learning to Love … After being a bachelor for a long time, Adam needed to adjust to sharing a roof with someone — “things like Nicole needing complete darkness and silence to sleep, when I’ve always slept with the TV on,” he says. Nicole says it took time navigating Adam’s night owl tendencies and “the fact that music is typically playing in the house while he does his radio show multiple times a week.”

Better With Age. Adam proposed live on the air in 2021, around the time they both turned 50. “Getting back together with someone at an older age after so much time, you feel like you’re coming home,” Nicole says. “You know each other’s likes and dislikes, you’ve seen how they’ve matured, you know you can manage heavy places together.” Adds Adam, “You understand each other from the roots up, and those roots go deep.”

spinner image Joan Price and Mac Marshall posing in two pictures
Partnered up but living apart. That’s what works for later-in-life couple Joan Price and Mac Marshall, who decided they didn’t need to see each other every day.
Courtesy Joan Price and Mac Marshall / Getty Images

Passionate together (by living apart)

Joan Price and Mac Marshall, both 80

Location: She lives in Sebastopol, California; he lives in Santa Rosa, California

Status: LAT (see below)

First Blushes. After Joan, a writer, lost her beloved second husband to cancer in 2008, she grieved profoundly. In May 2017, OK Cupid matched her with Mac, a widowed, retired anthropology professor. They were both 73. Joan says, “We connected on many levels — intellectually, emotionally, sexually — and with the important shared bond of having lost our great loves.” Now she and Mac are a committed couple but choose to live in separate homes, a.k.a. “LAT — living apart together,” a relationship style chosen by many older people. “Our relationship is joyful, communicative, and sexy,” she tells me. “So many people our age think their chance at love is over, especially if they’ve lost their spouse or partner. It’s never too late.”

The Secret Sauce. “We love each other,” says Mac, “but we don’t need to be in each other’s face all the time, and so being apart keeps the love lively and helps everything go well, including intimacy.” Joan, who writes books and blogs about “ageless” sex and relationships, says, “By setting a sex date — say, for 12:30 tomorrow afternoon.”

Learning to Love … Competing sleep schedules when they are together. “I tend to go to bed early and get up early,” says Mac. “Joan stays up until the wee hours and then sleeps until almost the end of the morning.” But it works. “He makes the coffee, which is waiting for me when I wake up,” Joan says. 

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Better With Age. “The couple we are today is the product of the love we shared with our previous spouses,” Joan says. “Sometimes I joke that we’re in a foursome with my late husband, Robert, and Mac’s late wife, Margery, because we talk about them all the time, easily and happily, with each other.” In short, loving one person doesn’t mean you can’t love again. “Even after long and loving marriages,” says Mac, who was with Margery for 30 years, “the heart finds room to expand.”

spinner image Rabbi Joseph Hample and Barry Wendell pose for a picture
For Rabbi Joe Hample, it was love at first note when he heard cantor Barry Wendell sing. The partners share many interests and even look a bit alike.
Courtesy Rabbi Joseph Hample and Barry Wendell / Getty Images

When the rabbi fell for the cantor

Rabbi Joe Hample, 65, and Barry Wendell, 73

Location: Morgantown, West Virginia

Status: Married since 2008

First Blushes. Joe noticed Barry at a gay synagogue in Los Angeles in 2005. On the eve of 50, Joe was a rabbinical student after a career in financial services. Barry, then 56, worked as a cantor and teacher. “I loved the way Barry sang,” Joe says. Adds Barry, “I’d recently had a heart attack and realized I didn’t want to be alone anymore. I prayed for a relationship and Joe showed up.” Joe laughs: “I guess I was the best God could do.”

The Secret Sauce. “Both of us, early in our lives, were chasing after exotics — men very different from ourselves,” says Joe, who now leads a congregation in West Virginia. “But no matter how nice they were, it was hard to negotiate a relationship with someone from a completely different background who had different interests and values.” Joe and Barry share not only their Jewish faith but similar philosophies, life experiences, even looks. “People will come up and say, ‘Hi, Rabbi,’ ” says Barry, who is active in local politics, “and I’ll say, ‘No, that’s him.’ ”

Learning to Love … Each other’s mess! “We’re both slobs and both absent-minded,” admits Joe. “We spend all day looking for whatever we’ve misplaced.” Says Barry, “At least we’re looking for our glasses together.”

Better With Age. “When you’re young, it’s so easy to complain about relationships, since nobody’s perfect,” Barry says. “At this stage, I appreciate Joe for exactly who he is and vice versa.” As Joe puts it, “Even though we’re both ornery and cranky and idiosyncratic and have our little issues, somehow we manage to get along quite well.”

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spinner image Jackie Joseph and David Lawrence pose for a picture
“Even among creative types, there’s no room for ‘acting’ in a relationship,” says former actress and dancer Jackie Joseph, talking about her marriage with former writer and producer David Lawrence.

For two Hollywood veterans, love entered the picture

Jackie Joseph, 90, and David Lawrence, 92

Location: Los Angeles,

Status: Married since 2003

First Blushes. As Hollywood veterans — he’s a writer and producer from the infancy of television and a onetime head of the Television Academy; she’s a former actress and dancer who was married to TV star Ken Berry — David and Jackie “had tons of people in common in the arts,” Jackie says, but didn’t get together until they were alone for a while after both their spouses died. “I was single, on purpose, for about 30 years, and then I got a phone call,” says Jackie, who was working as a counselor to women (and a few men) recovering from divorce, separation or widowhood. “I assumed David was calling for some help. Then the varied and unexpected happened: Love entered the picture.” Soon after a dinner date in 1999, “I invited Jackie over to my condo to swim,” David says. They were 65 and 67 at the time. “The biggest nightmare was to put on a bathing suit,” Jackie says.

The Secret Sauce. “The art is to show your true self without overthinking it or pretending to be fancy or anything else,” says Jackie. “Even among creative types, there’s no room for ‘acting’ in a relationship.” David says his connection comes down to a visceral feeling. “Every time I see her, she takes my breath away,” he says.

Learning to Love … “We have differences in taste, especially around decor,” says Jackie. “When I first came to his place, David had some paintings of women that were a little too risqué for me.” David admits he hasn’t overcome his “admiration for the female form, but I agreed to move the pictures out of the living room.”

Better With Age. “Even in our 90s, I feel that life together still has surprises, even new adventures, and that’s all because of the love we share,” Jackie says. Says David, “I’ll sum up my attitude by saying to your readers, no matter how old you are, I hope one day you have something like what we have.”

spinner image Jill Rothenberg Lee and Ray Jackson posing in two pictures
“What’s a nice Jewish girl from New Jersey doing with a hot cattleman with a 40,000-acre ranch?” Jill Rothenberg asked herself when she started a relationship with Lee Ray Jackson. But sparks kept flying, and the two are now engaged.​
Courtesy Jill Rothenberg Lee and Ray Jackson / Getty Images

“I met my golden bachelor, and he’s a real cowboy!” 

Jill Rothenberg, 57, and Lee Ray Jackson, 62

Location: Lee Ray lives on his family’s third-generation ranch in southeast Colorado. An East Coaster by birth who later spent many years in Denver, Jill now keeps a place in Pueblo, Colorado, and visits Lee Ray several times a month.

Status: Engaged

First Blushes. After her other long-term relationships and his two marriages didn’t work out, Jill and Lee Ray met online during COVID and had their first date at Home Depot. “As soon as she walked in, there wasn’t a doubt in my mind that she was the woman I wanted to be with,” he says. “She’s really beautiful!” Sparks kept flying, and Jill, an author, couldn’t help but ask, “What’s a nice Jewish girl from New Jersey doing with a hot cattleman with a 40,000-acre ranch?”

The Secret Sauce. “To me, he’s like an oak tree — solid, calm and just so nice to be around,” Jill says. “We can be grownups together, but sometimes we can be like 10-year-olds and just laugh and have fun.” Lee Ray says he’s “never met a woman with such an honest personality or someone I can trust with my heart like this.”

Learning to love … Navigating their own version of City Slickers. “I’ve dragged Lee Ray to Ikea, which I love but was his biggest nightmare,” Jill says. Says Lee Ray, “I’m in my happy place chopping wood or brisket-tagging the cattle, and Jill will sometimes look at me like, What are you talking about?”

Better With Age. “I don’t know if it’s my age or just finally finding the right person, but I can be more open at this point than I ever have before,” Lee Ray says. “Even if we find obstacles, we know we can work our way through them.” Jill says it “sometimes feels weird being older in a new relationship,” but Lee Ray’s mom, who’s 80, reassured her. “She said, ‘It’s not weird at all,’ ” Jill recalls. “ ‘You two are just very taken with each other. You met at the age you were supposed to meet.’ ”

Editor's note: This article was originally published on Nov. 30, 2022. It has been updated to reflect new information.

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