SUN CITY CENTER — George Dumont was debonair, with the face of young Cary Grant, creased Ivy League style and a Massachusetts lilt.
Darlen was 19, petite and cherub-faced. Sparkling eyes, tiny giggle, slightly naive. Determined to have a career.
Attraction was inevitable.
They both worked for the CIA in Washington. He was an administrator. She was his secretary.
One day, their boss drove past a park and saw the two strolling together with doe eyes. They were off the clock. The boss screeched to a halt, nearly swallowing his pipe.
"They were assigned to different positions," said her sister, Carol Russell.
Mr. Dumont waited six years to propose because he wasn't a man of rash decision. They wed on Nov. 22, 1958, in front of 10 people in his mother's apartment. They took the train to Miami Beach for a honeymoon. They snuggled on the sand. She beamed in a photo with her straps down showing tan lines.
They gave each other books with long inscriptions. For one birthday, she gave him handsome stationery.
Together, they watched live music along the Potomac River. They drove long distances. They loved wading into the ocean at the shore. They never had children.
At the CIA, she worked in personnel. His work was covert. He spoke Russian, Mandarin, French and German, and once perched on a balcony listening to Russian agents. They retired young and moved to Florida.
Their corner lot in a Sun City Center community had high security — all visitors were cleared at a gate. Their walls were the shade of the ocean, covered with photos. He was minimalist. She liked to hoard things a little, but he didn't complain.
In his desk, he kept a folder with a few yellowed sheets of handsome stationery.
When his eyesight dimmed, she read him the newspaper and the Bible and laid out his outfits. When he told the same stories again and again, she smiled and listened.
On Valentine's weekend 2008, they renewed their vows at their assisted living facility.
In May, she had a massive stroke. He visited her in the hospital, shuffling in with a walker. Soon, he suffered a stroke of his own that left him unresponsive.
The strokes paralyzed them each on the left side. Their beds were arranged so they could hold right hands.
On July 23, Mrs. Dumont lay dying at age 74. The nurse told her husband, "We know that you love Darlen." For the first time in weeks, he opened his eyes and spoke.
Mr. Dumont, 86, held on for eight days after his wife died. Then, on July 31, he went, too.
Stephanie Hayes can be reached at [email protected] or (727) 893-8857.