BROOKHAVEN >> The bride wore a lovely cream, floor-length gown as she carried a bouquet of roses and lilies to meet her groom, dressed in a dark gray suit at the end of the aisle at Christ United Methodist Church Saturday.
“Vera and Peter may be in their 90s but they have youth in their hearts,” said the Rev. Julia Singleton, pastor of Christ United Methodist. “When I see the way Peter looks at Vera, it’s like any 25-year-old looking at his bride.”
Both of them had been married previously. Peter Hosler was married to his wife, Marie, for 65 years and she died three and a half years ago. Vera Burlew was married to her husband, Roy, and had been widowed for two decades.
The former Sunoco engineer and former office manager met at the Brookhaven chapter of the American Association of Retired People. About a year after the death of Hosler’s wife, he took Burlew to see a performance of “The Music Man.” More musicals and plays followed.
On Aug. 16, they went to the Candlelight Theatre in Delaware and he proposed to her.
“We agree on a lot of stuff,” Hosler said. “Our personalities match closely, we have similar ideals. Both of us need companionship and to help each other.”
Earlene Icaro, who attended the wedding with her mom and friend of the bride, Millie Autenreith, said it was the talk of Brookhaven that Hosler and Burlew were getting married.
“They are two of the most loveliest people you ever met in your life,” she said. “To see them, it’s like watching two college kids. He opens the door, he carries her pocketbook. These two are in love. It’s cute to watch them. He just idolizes her to death.
“The joke is,” she continued, “who’s going to be the godmother if they come home from the honeymoon pregnant. They deserve happiness, they are just wonderful people.”
Icaro said their courtship has infused hope into many whose conversations tend to focus on upcoming doctors’ appointments and ailments.
“It’s nice to see love again,” she said. “Even if they only have a year together, it’s good to see happiness.”
For the wedding, Hosler’s family came from around the world. His five children and six grandchildren hailed from California, Missouri, Indiana, Massachusetts and Singapore. Burlew’s three children, eight grandchildren and eight great-grandchildren also attended, although not from quite as far.
“Each of us consulted with our families before agreeing to get married,” Hosler said.
Then, plans were put in place.
“I was sitting on the beach when Vera called,” Singleton said, adding, she thought, “‘Oh no, Vera’s calling me on vacation. This can’t be good.’ Vera is the head of the prayer chain, so when she calls, it’s usually not good news.”
The reverend answered her phone.
“Pastor,” Burlew said, “I know you’re on vacation, but I just wanted to let you know that I am engaged and I hope that you would preside over our wedding.”
“Engaged!” Singleton exclaimed. “I didn’t even know you were dating.”
Yet, the pastor told the more than 100 in attendance at the wedding, “I was so happy and surprised and when I thought about it, Vera is the youngest 90-year-old I have ever known. She went on a cruise for her 90th birthday!
“And, then I met Peter,” Singleton said, “and Peter’s exercise regimen puts mine to shame.”
That will help as they are moving in together – Burlew from her Brookhaven home and Hosler from his Nether Providence house – into Lima Estates. Then, in January, there will be the honeymoon.
“We’ll be going to the Bahamas,” Hosler said. “We’ll be going on a cruise.”
On Saturday, though, their hearts were overflowing with happiness.
“I feel like I’m 30 years old,” Hosler said after the ceremony as he clutched his bride close to him.
“It’s wonderful,” she said. “I just never thought it would happen again, so you never say never.”
Her groom agreed, “Never say never.”