SUN CITY CENTER — Before they even met, they already had spent more than a combined century in marriage.
But who says there's an age limit on falling in love?
On Saturday, Bob Hill and Ellen Sheffield, both in their 80s, tied the knot at the Aston Gardens retirement center, where they live.
They stood together with their grown kids at their side while a crowd of people their own age sat watching.
Hill, 84, said companionship led to the marriage. A lot of fellow residents are from similar backgrounds, he said. But they "just found somebody you like a little bit more, and this seemed like a good idea."
The newlyweds began dating at a Valentine's Day dance this year. Now, they'll move into a bigger apartment together.
"This is friendship," said Hill, who was previously married for 57 years. "You're not going to be raising children. We enjoy one another — it's fun."
The bride's two daughters walked their 88-year-old mother down the aisle. Having outlived a couple of husbands, Sheffield said she and Hill share a lot in common and "are just on the same page."
"Everybody wants their mom to be happy, no matter how old they are," said her daughter Cindy Ackerman. "Wouldn't that be the way to live out the rest of your life, living with somebody you love and being committed to them? It doesn't get better than that."
Hill and Sheffield will honeymoon at Disney World and plan to spend the summer traveling the country visiting relatives.
Sheffield's longtime friend, the Rev. Robert Coughenour, performed the wedding vows. He also officiated at the funeral of Sheffield's previous husband. In his 50 years as a minister, Coughenour said this was his first wedding of two people at this stage in their lives.
"I think it's a wonderful time for companionship," he said. "I'm of the opinion that we spend too much time on the ills and the problems of aging, and not nearly enough on the celebration and joy."
Kevin Smetana can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or (813) 661-2439.