A couple at a retirement home got married Wednesday -- both at age 91 -- a reminder that it's never too late to start a new phase of life.
Margaret McSpadden and retired Air Force Col. William Thomas, both residents at Bishop Gadsden on James Island, tied the knot in a ceremony in the chapel.
"It's something I didn't expect," said the colonel, who turns 92 today and still exudes energy.
He was vice commander of the 437th Airlift Wing at the Charleston Air Force Base when he retired in 1971. He was President Dwight Eisenhower's personal pilot for eight years, according to his family.
He flew cargo over the Himalayas between India and China during World War II.
Margaret owned the Goat Cart antique shop on St. Michael's Alley until the late 1970s. Her maiden name was Stone.
"We're very happy," said Margaret, who looks remarkably younger than her age. "We think can spend another 12 years together."
Margaret and the colonel had been friends for more than 40 years, according to Kimberly Farfone, Bishop Gadsden's development director. Along with their spouses, they had shared dinners, played golf and traveled together.
Both lost their spouses within the last two years. Margaret moved into an assisted-living apartment next to the colonel when her husband died. The friendship became a romance, and then a marriage. The Rev. Joseph DiRaddo, also a resident, presided over the ceremony Wednesday.
Two of the colonel's daughters said they were not surprised, knowing their father.
"No, it didn't surprise me; he's very resilient," said Sandy DeRousse of Santa Barbara, Calif. "They are an inspiration to all of us. You just realize with the right state of mind there isn't anything we can't do."
His whole life has been an adventure, said Shelley Thomas, another daughter who lives near Nashville, Tenn. He has been on the History Channel twice. He delivered an hour lecture off the cuff to one of her classes at Middle Tennessee State University a year ago.
"He constantly surprises us with his sense of adventure, in every aspect of his life," she said. "Of course we didn't expect it, but we're like, 'OK, now here's one more incredible thing he's doing.' "
The marriage has given Margaret a new zest for life, said Rod Eldredge of West Ashley, one of her sons.
"I think it's great," he said. "My mother's outlook and interest in life has improved."
"It's miraculous," said Gena Schultz of Chocowinity, N.C., Margaret's daughter. "It's a challenge for the rest of us to keep up with this."
The newlyweds said they will keep their own adjacent apartments, because they both have so much stuff and like their space.
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