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LOVE COMES AROUND A SECOND TIME // AL ALONSO AND YVONNE MURPHY

Al Alonso and Yvonne Murphy are known as the "cute couple."

Al Alonso, 82, and Yvonne Murphy, "39 and counting - or at least younger than Al."

Love the second time around for Al Alonso and Yvonne Murphy began with flowers, impatiens in particular.

Like him, she was a garden putterer and that's how she first caught his eye when he was out on his daily bicycle ride.

Yvonne: He was casing the place, you see.

Al: Yes, I'd ride by hoping she would be out.

One day he mustered up the courage to break the ice by chatting about the red and white impatiens he had been weeding earlier that day.

Yvonne: I asked him, "What are you going to do with them?" And he said, "Throw them out." And I said, "Oh, don't do that, you're throwing away a fortune. Give them to me."

He did.

After that, he would stop by to check on the progress of her newly transplanted impatiens and to chat about this and that.

Like his work in the hotel industry in the Midwest that used to have him rubbing elbows with show business types like Jack Benny ("A real gentleman"), Xavier Kugat ("A real stinker") and one of his favorites, Jackie Cooper.

Then there was the hotel reunion that Al had recently attended.

Yvonne: He was telling me how everyone was so happy to see one another that they were all hugging each other. I said, "Sounds like there was a lot of hugging going on," and he said, "Well, I'd like to hug you."

We've been hugging each other ever since.

That would be about five years now.

On their first real date, he took her to Wendy's.

Al: Well I wasn't very hungry that day. I just wanted a sandwich, and we were going down (State Road) 54, so I asked her if she'd like to go there and she said yes.

Yvonne: That's when I knew I had a big spender.

Pretty soon they were eating lunch and dinner together at her house.

Yvonne: I'd ask him what he had for dinner the night before and it was always "a ham and cheese sandwich," so I asked him over. Our first dinner was real nice with cloth napkins and the whole shebang.

Now he's lucky if he gets a paper one.

They both had good marriages before they met.

Yvonne: I think that's why we appreciate each other so much.

Yvonne was married for 43 years to Gene, a former barber/photographer. She worked, too, as a communication supervisor for Ford Motor Co. in Deerborn, Mich. They never had any children but were very close to a passel of nieces and nephews. In 1994, they both retired and moved to New Port Richey.

Al was married for 54 years to Ruth. They had four children and were very happy. A job with the Innisbrook Resort brought them south.

The two couples lived in the same neighborhood, Greenbrook Estates in New Port Richey, but weren't really acquainted.

Then in May of 2000, Gene, who had heart problems, passed away. Ruth followed in July of 2001, just before Al's birthday, after suffering a stroke.

Yvonne: When they go, you think you'll never laugh again.

But then, about a year or so later, Yvonne and Al found each other.

Al: Let me tell you about our first big laugh.

Yvonne: Oh, don't tell her that!

Al: We were at her house and we were necking on this old couch of hers. We leaned back, and suddenly the couch started opening and just about swallowed us up. There we were, all crumpled up with our legs up in the air.

We just laughed and laughed.

People are always saying what a cute couple they are. The two are often seen holding hands at monthly homeowners meetings and such. Both, evidently, are good kissers.

Al: There was this one time, we were leaving Golden Corral, and I put my arm around her shoulder, gently, you know, and some kid, he must have been 10 or 11 says, "Hey, get a room!" We just laughed about that one.

Still do.

Laughter is definitely part of the charm as is the good company they provide for one another.

There's the mutual love of gardening. Sometimes they fish together, reeling in catfish then letting them go in the little pond behind Al's house. They enjoy crabbing adventures on the Cotee River, visiting with good friends and eating out at places like Barnhill's, Chili's or one of their favorites, Vincenzo's.

Each morning at about 8:30 a.m., Al shows up at Yvonne's house for coffee and to do the daily crossword together. He almost always brings a rose he's plucked from one of his four rose bushes.

Yvonne: People don't think his roses ever bloom because he cuts them all off and gives them to me.

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About this feature

Pasco People is a regular feature that will spotlight the people who make Pasco County the kind of community it is. Got someone you think we should profile? E-mail us at pasco@sptimes.com.

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