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Widow’s ‘wonderful life’ lacked a companion; he found her at The Heritage

BRENTWOOD – Dave Allen hadn’t dated “in 50 or 60 years.”

Linda Staley, widowed 14 years ago, had no plans to remarry.

But on Sept. 2, 2022 — Linda’s 78th birthday — Dave, 82, found himself in a Franklin jewelry store, shopping for an engagement ring. When the salesperson asked him about Linda’s ring size and when he needed it, Dave guessed on the size and said, “Tonight.”

Three months later, Dave, “a staunch Methodist,” and Linda, “a staunch Baptist,” tied the knot in a private ceremony with retired United Methodist bishop, the Rev. Dr. Joe Pennell, and retired Baptist minister, Tom Clark, officiating. Their wives, Janene and Darlene, respectively, served as official photographers as they were the only guests.

The ceremony took place in The Heritage at Brentwood’s private dining room, transformed by staff into an intimate wedding chapel. All three couples reside at the Brentwood senior living community – though Dave and Linda, of course, only merged households after their Charleston, S.C. honeymoon.

But let’s back up, a bit, to learn about how this love story began.

Dave and his late wife Sally were married “one month shy of 58 years.” She died in 2020, less than a year after the Allens had moved into a first-floor apartment in The Heritage’s then-new Redbud building.

Early in 2022, Dave recalls looking around his apartment and thinking to himself, “You have the most wonderful life.” He was very active in his church, played golf twice a week and exercised in The Heritage’s Healthy Life Center every day. The one thing he didn’t have, however, was a woman to share the rest of his life with.

He called one of his daughters to see what she thought about him trying to meet someone.

“She said, ‘Daddy, I think that will be great.’”

Linda’s first exposure to The Heritage came when a friend who was interested in The Heritage asked her to attend a marketing event with her. Linda agreed to come for support. Her friend didn’t make the move. But Linda put her three-bedroom, three-bathroom condo on the market, sold it in one day and moved into The Heritage in January 2022.

You’re going to go there and meet someone,” her daughter told at the time, to which Linda dismissed.

She quickly engaged in her new community, joining the tap dance class, two Bible studies and Glee Club. She enjoyed the community’s special events.

In May, Dave called her and asked if she would like to meet for a drink in The Heritage’s Steeplechase Lounge. Linda doesn’t drink alcohol, so he brought two Sprites and they talked. And talked. The next week Linda, who loves to cook, invited Dave for dinner. They soon discovered a shared love of dancing, of music and of faith.

A short time later, his adult children kept saying, “Daddy, we all want to meet Linda.” So Dave invited Linda to accompany him to the Allen family’s annual July beach trip.

Linda’s daughter thought she was crazy to accept so soon into the relationship. But Linda did and the Allen clan embraced her. “She really fit into this family,” Dave says.

The night before Linda’s Sept. 2 birthday, they started talking about their respective apartments. Dave remembers saying, “But I thought we weren’t going to talk about getting married.” Linda replied, “Well, you’ve never asked me.”

Which brings the story full circle back to Dave’s trip to the jewelry store the next day and their subsequent wedding.

The couple decided to keep Dave’s larger apartment, but to redecorate it with Linda’s furnishings. They installed a tile backsplash identical to the one in Linda’s former kitchen, painted the kitchen and bathroom cabinets white and added a custom closet system. With lots of family photos displayed throughout, it quickly became their home.

The biggest challenge they faced was creating a prenuptial agreement, protecting their individual and family interests. They recommend one to any couple their age considering second marriages.

Dave and Linda – who kept the name Staley so she didn’t have to go through all the bells and whistles of legally changing it to Allen – are the first Heritage residents to get married in almost a decade. But it turns out they won’t hold that title long.

Two other residents, both widowed after moving in, plan to marry this spring. One is Linda and Dave’s next-door neighbor!

Will there be a third, as things always seem to happen in threes? Only time will tell, but love does seem to be in the air around 900 Heritage Way.