The four of them were always together _ longtime friends who shared a love of metaphysics and travel.
On Saturday, the two Pinellas County couples left in a Ford Taurus for a road trip to the Carolina mountains. They stopped in St. Augustine, Savannah, Ga., and Charleston, S.C.
They were headed to North Carolina on Monday when they decided to take the scenic route. It was a deadly choice.
Near Holly Hill, S.C., Paul Frank Daniele of Clearwater turned the Taurus into the path of an oncoming Buick.
The impact sent Daniele and his wife, Barbara, to the hospital. It killed their friends Thomas and Dorcas Black of St. Petersburg.
The Blacks were ministers at the Temple of Life church at the Center for Metaphysical Studies, the educational division of New Age Ministries International, headquartered in Clearwater. Daniele is the center's dean of education.
"It's very unfortunate. It was a very shocking thing," said Daniele, 58, who continued to recover from internal injuries Tuesday at the Medical University of South Carolina hospital in Charleston. "The Blacks were like surrogate parents to me."
Mr. Black, 77, was a teacher who became a ceramic tile specialist after he and his wife moved to Florida with their two sons in 1957. He was active in the Elks Lodge, serving as treasurer and parliamentarian.
"He was a great mediator," said his son, Wynne Black, 47, of New Port Richey. "He just had this way of calming everybody down."
Mrs. Black, a 73-year-old artist who often displayed her oils and sketches, was a saleswoman at several department stores in St. Petersburg.
She would give "readings," teach classes and attend seminars at the center. She had had an interest in the metaphysical, the study of the nature of existence, since her childhood in St. Louis, she said in a 1992 Times article.
"From the time I was a young child, I was aware of things, and I thought other people knew them, too," she said. "I was surprised when I found out they didn't. I always sensed when things were going to happen."
Before leaving on the trip Saturday, the Blacks were the beaming grandparents of a 10-week-old girl, who was born eight weeks prematurely. "Take care of our little girl," Mrs. Black told her daughter-in-law, Mary.
The Blacks and Danieles were turning onto U.S. 176 about 1 p.m. when the Ford was struck by a 1993 Buick traveling about 55 mph, said G. B. Peralta, the South Carolina Highway Patrol trooper who investigated the accident. No charges will be filed, though the trooper said Daniele was at fault.
"I believe he's paid the ultimate price," Peralta said.
The Buick's driver, Calvin Floyd of North Charleston, and his wife were released from the hospital Tuesday.
Mrs. Daniele, 58, also was released.
The Blacks, who were riding in the back seat, died of complete body trauma, said Berkeley County Coroner Wade Arnette.
The couples' weeklong vacation was supposed to be in full swing by now. They had planned a visit to Cherokee, N.C., where Mrs. Black would learn more about American Indians for her artwork.
"They basically did their own thing," said the Blacks' son, Wynne. "That was the neat thing about them."