First published in the Sept. 24 print issue of the South Pasadena Review.
I’ve done the same thing.
I met a woman, struck up a great conversation, and then said goodbye without asking her full name or any way through which I could pursue a possible future relationship.
Bill Suter, of South Pasadena, also fell prey to that single man’s snare, but he’s much more determined and cleverer than I ever was in marching down the path of a future relationship. In his pursuit, Suter has twice taken out a half-page color ad in the South Pasadena Review.
Our hero is 99 years old but age knows no bounds when it comes to striking up a new friendship.
The ad reads “66-year-old Kate. Please Call 99-year-old Bill. Subject: Dinner. 323-254-6143.”
“I made a living using the English language, so I think I know how to express myself,” Suter said. “Besides, I’ve always thought it pays to advertise.”
As Suter tells it, he and Kate passed each other several times while grocery shopping at Pavilions in South Pasadena a few weekends ago. After running into each other a few times, the woman introduced herself as Kate and they struck up a conversation. He even asked if she was married, and she waved her hand to show she was not, and she told him that he definitely did not look his age.
He recalls she was about 5 feet, 5 inches tall, slender, and had ash blond hair.
“We clicked and I was too stupid to ask for her number. I’ve been kicking myself ever since,” Suter said. “I’ve been looking for her ever since.”
He’s even gone back to the grocery store on the weekends, but he has yet to find the right Kate.
His ad hasn’t produced many results. There was a caller whose name was Jane but who said he could call her “Katie.” He took her to dinner anyway and they had a pleasant time, but no “clicks” were heard, and they went their separate ways.
“I figured someone would call,” he said, not really counting the woman named Jane.
Just from talking to him, he sounds like quite a catch. He’s got a great laugh, says he’s on no medications and walks a mile after breakfast.
“I figure I still have five or six years ahead of me,” he said.
Suter, who has lived in South Pasadena for 55 years, has been married three times, and he had to bury each love. His first marriage lasted 25 years and produced twin girls; his second marriage lasted 35 years, and last fall he lost his third wife of five years.
He was an independent insurance adjuster who ran his own firm in South Pasadena until he retired at 75. Since then he’s been a volunteer, first at the local library, then serving as an officer for the Friends of the Library. For 12-15 years, he delivered Meals on Wheels for the South Pasadena Senior Center.
“Bill was one of our most committed volunteers,” recalled Liliana Torres, former Senior Center manager. “He rarely missed a delivery day and filled in for those who could not deliver. He loved to travel the world, take photographs and dance.
“He is known for his positive attitude, never a day when he isn’t smiling and grateful,” she added. “He is a super happy-go-lucky guy in social settings.”
He attended all the special events and dinner dances offered by the Senior Center. Some years ago, he and his girlfriend were voted king and queen of the annual program. Suter loves to ballroom dance — swing, foxtrot, cha-cha, you name it, he can do it.
All of his wives danced, and he recalled that he really got to know his second wife while they were out on the dance floor.
“We danced, we dated and we fell in love,” he said.
“A few years ago, I attended a [Senior Center] annual gala and Bill and his wife were seated at our table,” recalled Maida Wong, public services manager at the library. “Bill was dressed in a fabulous damask tuxedo and he and his wife spent the evening dancing away. He’s energetic, strong, friendly and mentally sharp.”
Suter plays bridge with a group in Arcadia and it is scheduled to go soon on a cruise out of Los Angeles.
“There are seven women and me. I’ve been told I’m the designated dancer,” said Suter, who grew up in New Jersey and is a veteran of World War II.
And, as if to prove his fortitude, Suter has booked a cruise at Christmas and another cruise in 2022.
Suter said he’s not deterred by the lack of replies to his ad, or his lack of success in retracing his steps in the grocery aisles. He plans to place himself Saturday — the day he says she goes grocery shopping — outside the entrance to Pavilions, wearing his World War II veteran’s cap.
So, if you are that Kate, please stop by and re-introduce yourself. Your determined suitor awaits.
Who wants to count years when you can count on trying to make your dreams come true?