The greatest love stories are often filled with chance encounters, extraordinary circumstances, and plenty of meant-to-bes. For Richard and Mary Ann, residents of Oakmont Manor and a married couple of more than 40 years, their story is no different. True love found a way to win in the end.
A Tale of Two Cities
A native Michigander, Mary Ann was born into the heavily Polish neighborhood of Hamtramck – a small annex within the city limits of Detroit. Her mother worked on the line at General Motors, and her father worked for a small sausage company as a smoker. She stayed in Hamtramck throughout her childhood with her family, and, after graduating from St. Florian High School, was soon working and settled down with her first husband. The young couple would soon pick up their stakes and move to Houston, Texas, where their marriage would come to a timely end thousands of miles away from home.
While Mary Ann grew up in one of the country’s busiest and most prosperous cities, Richard had the exact opposite experience in the Hawkeye State. Born and raised in Northern Iowa on a working farm, Richard’s parents both endured the hard physical labor that comes with farm life. When medical issues forced the family to move down south to the Lone Star State, Richard was far from disappointed. “I was glad to get out of there,” he said of Iowa. “It was so hot and so flat, and the farm work was hard.”
Love in the Lone Star State
Just like any great love story, Richard and the newly single Mary Ann were helped by a bit of kismet and luck. Both were now living in Houston, countless miles away from their birthplaces, sharing apartments with roommates and working odd jobs. They met when they realized there were living on the same floor of two apartment buildings adjacent to each other, and through Richard’s roommate, were finally introduced. They liked each other immediately, and the rest, as they say, is history. “I liked him right away,” said Mary Ann.
The couple eventually moved to Austin where Richard’s parents were living, and he enrolled in college. After graduating in January with his teaching degree from the University of Texas, Richard struggled to find a job because of the time of year. One day he approached Mary Ann with an idea. “He asked me, ‘how would you like to go home to Detroit for a couple of years?’” Mary Ann said. “Now, it’s been fifty-some years and we’re still here.”
Back Home in Hamtramck
The couple moved back to Mary Ann’s hometown of Hamtramck, eventually settling into a house just one street over from where she grew up and her father still lived. He was now suffering from cancer, and their close proximity allowed her to visit every day to help take care of him. Richard was able to get a job first at Sherrard Elementary and then at Post Middle School where he taught Detroit and Hamtramck school children for more than 30 years.
Starting a family, the couple decided to move to the suburbs in the early 1970s, settling down in Sterling Heights where they lived for the next 25 years while they raised their children. Richard continued to teach, and Mary Ann worked for Hudson’s Department Store in the security division. As the kids grew, so did the couple’s desire for more space, moving eventually to what Mary Ann calls “her favorite place in Michigan” on the border of Shelby Township and Macomb. They lived there for 18 years, before some medical issues and the stresses of having to care for a three-story condo just got to be too much.
The couple toured five different senior living communities before deciding to put down roots at Oakmont Manor on the suggestion from a member of their church who also happened to be a resident. It was a perfect fit for the couple. “I liked the friendliness and the cleanliness, and for senior places, I think it’s one of the best,” Mary Ann said of their decision to move to Manor, “and I really love the people here. You feel like these people really care.”