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From This Day: A blind date pays off with love

Karen Traenkner, 63, and David Koser, 61, of New Port Richey were married Dec. 31, 2012, at the Pier Hotel in St. Petersburg.

Ryan G Photo

Karen Traenkner, 63, and David Koser, 61, of New Port Richey were married Dec. 31, 2012, at the Pier Hotel in St. Petersburg.

Karen Traenkner sat in Rapscallions Restaurant in Land O'Lakes, enamored. Then David Koser took her hand and gently stroked her palm.

"I said to myself, 'Oh boy! This is it. I'm gone,' " said Karen, 63, an employee of Dade City.

Four years later, on the last day of 2012, Karen and David said "I do" during a noon ceremony at the Pier Hotel in St. Petersburg in front of seven witnesses.

David had no idea the woman his friends recommended he go on a blind date with would turn out to be his wife.

"I hadn't had too much luck on the blind date front, so I wasn't expecting much," said David, 61, a ranch hand from New Port Richey.

David was friends with the children of Wynelle McLeod, Karen's neighbor.

After Karen lost her husband of 35 years to pancreatic cancer in 2005, she and Wynelle, who was in her 70s and going blind, were fast friends. They'd get pedicures, go out to eat and keep one another company.

"She'd always say, 'Let's go out and chase men,' " Karen said. "I'd ask where, and she'd say, 'Walmart.' "

Wynelle was determined to make Karen happy, even if she couldn't see it for herself. So when David came onto the market, she suggested Karen snap him up.

Karen and David scheduled a double-date sailing trip on Veterans Day 2008, but he fell ill. Not wanting to just pass on the whole thing, the two talked on the phone for a few weeks before making the date at Rapscallions.

Karen found out that David had lost his wife to cancer in 2006, after five years of courtship and one year of marriage. He had a sailboat and loved to be on the water. He had a wicked sense of humor and didn't shy away from talking about religion and politics.

The initial date was all it took to convince these two that they belonged in one another's orbit. Wynelle didn't live to see them move in together in 2010, but she was happy they had found each other.

Eventually, the couple consolidated their lives. Karen and David decided to sell her home in Dade City and move to New Port Richey.

They talked about their future.

"We've got a sailboat and we'd just love to retire and sail away," Karen said.

It was clear to both of them that they'd met the person they wanted to spend the rest of their lives with, and it was only a matter of time.

In February 2012, the couple went out for David's birthday at 400 Beach in St. Petersburg, and he asked Karen to be his wife. David said he didn't have a ring at the time, which was particularly embarrassing for him.

"I used to be jeweler," he said. He even found a bad joke in the moment.

"He told me he should have put a rock on the table and said, 'Here's your rock,' " Karen recalled. "I have a great sense of humor, but it doesn't go that far."

When making honeymoon plans, Karen decided she didn't want to get married in 2013. So in casual dress the couple, some family, some friends and a minister who went to high school with Karen's youngest son gathered at the Pier Hotel for their nuptials and lunch on Dec. 31, 2012.

"No music. No flowers. Just a small ceremony with people who matter to us," Karen said.

The fanfare wasn't necessary for their easy, comfortable sort of love, she said. "We've got a good life and we've got a lot more of it left."

Robbyn Mitchell can be reached at rmitchell@tampabay.com.

From This Day: A blind date pays off with love 04/06/13 [Last modified: Friday, April 5, 2013 1:30pm]

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