NH Love Stories: Dick and Peggy

You could call it fate. Or, if you're disinclined to believe in such things, a series of circumstances - some born of sadness, some luck - that brought two people together when they least expected it.

This story ends with a marriage, but begins with loss.

Fifteen years ago Dick Aplin's wife, JoAnne, was diagnosed with Parkinson's Disease. Their daughter, a hospice nurse from Lee, suggested they consider Riverwoods, a retirement community in Exeter. Dick and JoAnne followed her advice and moved from Ithaca, New York, and settled on New Hampshire's Seacoast. Then, in 2005, JoAnne's health declined and she was transferred to a nearby hospital - sadly, she died shortly thereafter.

Meanwhile, Peggy Hoyt decided it was time to leave her house in East Madison near King Pine Purity Spring Resort, which her family has owned for generations. She too chose Riverwoods to become her new home.

This sounds suspiciously like fate, but Dick has other ideas. "I claim that Peggy moved in because she heard I was available," he often jokes.

One evening, they found themselves at the same dinner table. Dick teases Peggy that she saw him from across the room and couldn't resist his handsomeness, but Peggy corrects his more colorful version of events - though there's no assigned seating in the dining room, she was new and the Riverwoods staff seated her at the nearest vacancy, which just happened to be his table. "It was," she says, "very fortunate."

"It wasn't love at first sight," adds Dick, "but by the time dessert came I knew she was special."

"I wasn't looking for a man," Peggy tells Dick. "I was getting along fine! But you were just too much to resist."

From that night on, friendship eventually grew to romance. It was, says Dick, like being teenagers all over again. They eventually learned that on many occasions Peggy would wait in the mailroom before dinner hoping to "accidentally" run into Dick, and sometimes on those very same nights he was waiting for her - just in another room. They didn't know it at the time, but they were both waiting for each other.

And, like teenagers, there was a certain amount of sneaking around.

Six years ago Dick was in Colorado celebrating Christmas with his daughter while Peggy remained in New Hampshire. On Christmas Day, says Dick, he really wanted to call Peggy but was afraid for two reasons: He wasn't sure how she would take it and he didn't want his daughter to know he was "sort of taken with a lady."

The solution to problem two was to call her from behind the garage - in his shirt sleeves in the middle of a Colorado winter. "It was like smoking out behind the barn," laughs Dick. "I was ready to shove the phone in my pocket if she [his daughter] came out."

Fortunately for Dick, Peggy was more than glad he'd called. When she was a girl, she explains, phone calls cost money. Her mother would even go so far as to put a three-minute timer by the phone so Peggy wouldn't talk too long. "So when he called all the way from Colorado, I was very impressed."

The Christmas call turned out to be a pivotal moment. After that, says Dick, "things started to speed up."

Telling their families about the new relationship wasn't difficult. For one, says Dick, their children had already figured it out. Secondly, both his family and Peggy's were glad that they'd found love and each other.

The wedding, held at Riverwoods a little over five years ago, was a grand affair. With 68 family members between them - including 10 children, 22 grandchildren and 16 great-grandchildren - it couldn't have been anything but a large, joyful celebration. The total guest number was somewhere in the range of 250-275. Dick's two sons were his best men, Peggy's son gave her away and when she threw the bouquet from the balcony her granddaughters were waiting to catch it.

Since their marriage Dick and Peggy have traveled the world to destinations like Greece, Scandinavia and Germany. They currently have plans to visit one of their many grandchildren at the University of Edinburgh in Scotland.

"She just came along at the right time," says Dick. "We view ourselves as very fortunate and so do all our children. We enjoy life."

Click here for a video where Dick and Peggy tell their story in their own words.

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