Make us your home page
Instagram

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Wife's 90th birthday celebrated in a most expansive way

When Pauline Renshaw Reinhart Dawson Spangler turned 90 last month, candles were being blown out in her honor on cakes from Florida to California, from Oregon to New York. And, in fact, the party is continuing.

It was her "Birthday Across America," the brainchild of her (third) husband (of a year and a half), Dan Spangler. He even offered to buy the cakes for the far-flung parties. No one took him up on the offer, but they did use Pauline's birthday as a good reason to celebrate.

Pauline and Dan met at church. Really.

Almost two years ago, when Pauline was living at an assisted living facility in Palm Harbor — she didn't need assistance; she had moved there with her second husband and continued to live there after he died — she decided she wanted to get back into her lifelong habit of going to church.

Someone suggested North Bay Community Church, two blocks from where she lived.

And so she walked the two blocks — blocks get longer as we get older, she said — to church. The pastor introduced Pauline as a new member of the church, and after services were over, she mingled with the greeting committee, never suspecting that her future husband was among its members.

When the committee members realized that Pauline had walked to church, they wouldn't hear of her walking back home. Someone offered up a member of the committee — a man several years younger than she who wears big glasses and an event bigger smile — standing off to the side.

He accepted, and on the short ride home, Dan Spangler told Pauline Dawson about an upcoming symphony concert at the church. He asked her if she wanted a ride there, adding that she was welcome to bring a friend.

"I thought, 'This looks like quite a nice man,' " Pauline said. She told him yes.

She did bring a friend, who wanted to go home right after the concert, so they dropped her off and went to what would become their favorite date spot — DQ.

That was Nov. 7, 2011.

Three months later, they were married — in front 100 people at the church where they had met.

• • •

He's originally from York, Pa.; she's from Pontiac, Mich.

He had three children; she had five, but one died.

He worked as a college director of student activities; she taught first grade for 30 years.

His wife had died a year before they met; her husband had died four years before — and both from congestive heart failure involving the same valve.

A seemingly perfect match.

• • •

They moved into his neat and tidy Palm Harbor home.

Early this year, Spangler, realizing his wife would be 90 on Aug. 2, started thinking about what to do.

He asked her what she wanted.

Want a big Florida party in a state park or church?

No way, she said.

"Everybody kept asking me what I was going to do to celebrate," Pauline said.

"It got kind of obnoxious," her husband, 81, said.

• • •

And that's when he got the idea of a "Birthday Across America." Dan — so organized he color-coded not only the "guest" list to keep track of who was having parties when, but also the pins on the party-locator map — went to work.

He sent letters to 60 people, detailing his plan to have all of Pauline's friends and family members celebrating her birthday at the same time.

He got 50 responses to the event that has turned into the party that won't quit.

The first birthday celebration took place at a gathering of Zephyrhills snowbirds in Pontiac, Mich., in July; the last won't be held until November.

All for a woman who never suspected the bonus she would get for going back to church.

• • •

They probably knew they were meant for each other on that first DQ date. So taken with each other, they didn't even realize the place had cleared out while they sat there. Closing time, they were told.

She climbed in his car and he drove her home. They were almost there when she realized she had left her purse in the DQ.

When they pulled back into the parking lot, employees were waiting at the door for them to come back. One was holding her purse.

Their first shared stroke of luck.

Hmm. Funny how it seems as if all great love stories start with an unforgettable episode like that.

Patti Ewald can be reached at pewald@tampabay.com or (727) 893-8746.

party Across America rules

This is what Dan Spangler said in 60 letters he sent to friends and relatives. He got 50 responses.

• Everyone is invited to celebrate Pauline's birthday with your family and friends by having a small get-together in your home or anywhere you wish with a birthday cake and nine candles.

• Sing happy birthday to Pauline, blow out the candles and enjoy.

• Be sure to have someone take pictures and send two 4-by-6 hard copies of your best pictures to us (no email, fax, Facebook or Twitter).

• We will make a collage of all the pictures and send you a copy.

• Return the self-addressed postcard to let us know if you will be part of this Party Across America.

Before signing it "Pauline's sidekick, Dan Spangler," he offered to send money to buy the cakes (which no one took him up on).

Wife's 90th birthday celebrated in a most expansive way 09/18/13 [Last modified: Thursday, September 19, 2013 5:14pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. Duke Energy Florida president answers questions about utility's response to Irma

    Hurricanes

    ST. PETERSBURG — After more than a week since Hurricane Irma knocked out power to millions of Floridians, Duke Energy announced it will finish its restoration efforts Tuesday.

    Duke Energy Florida President Harry Sideris greets St. Petersburg Mayor Rick Kriseman on Tuesday at a news conference where both spoke about Hurricane Irma recovery. The event was held at a Florida Department of Transportation lot next to Maximo Park in St. Petersburg, where the city is collecting Irma yard debris which will be mulched and sold to a local tomato farmer. [SCOTT KEELER   |   Times]

  2. Leaves, mountains, ice cream and cheese: What's not to like in Burlington, Vt.?

    Travel

    If I loved Burlington, Vt., during a visit with my daughter when the high was 37 degrees, I feel completely comfortable recommending the city as a great destination for fall, when it's considered one of the top leaf-watching spots in the world.

    Founded in 1791, the University of Vermont is the sixth-oldest college established in New England.
  3. Puerto Ricans in Tampa Bay wait with dread as Hurricane Maria approaches island

    Hurricanes

    TAMPA — As Hurricane Maria swirled in the Atlantic Ocean, Sarykarmen Rivera got a phone call from her parents in Puerto Rico. They had an ominous message.

    Sarykarmen Rivera sits for a portrait with a picture of herself and her family in her hometown of Guayama, Puerto Rico, while at the Univision studios in Tampa on Tuesday. Rivera's mother, father, and extended family are currently in Puerto Rico and she worries about their safety as Hurricane Maria approaches. LOREN ELLIOTT   |   Times
  4. Early estimates peg Hurricane Irma damage at as much as $65B

    Banking

    The damage totals from Hurricane Irma are still being tallied, but early numbers are in: As of Tuesday, the storm is estimated to have caused between $42.5 billion and $65 billion of damage. That's according to a Tuesday release by Irvine, Calif.-based analytics company CoreLogic.

    Hurricane Irma is estimated to have caused up to $65 billion in damage, said analytics company CoreLogic. Pictured is 
Hermilo Munoz Castillo as wades down a flooded street to check on his home in southern Collier County, Fla. after Hurricane Irma passed. | [LOREN ELLIOTT | Times]
  5. Port Tampa Bay makes public/private commitment for $60 million expansion project

    Business

    TAMPA — Port Tampa Bay approved a public-private partnership agreement with four other entities to divvy up who will pay for a $60 million widening and extension of the Big Bend Channel.

    Port Tampa Bay approved a participation agreement with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Florida Department of Transportation, Tampa Electric Company and Mosaic Company at the port's monthly board meeting on  Tuesday. Port Tampa Bay President & CEO Paul Anderson signs the agreement as Ram Kancharla; Port Tampa Bay's vice president of planning & development, Brandon Burch; project manager at United States Army Corps of Engineers, Lois Moore; of Alcalde and Fay and Charles Klug; Port Tampa Bay principal counsel, and Tim Murphy; deputy district engineer of the Army Corps., looks on. [Company handout]