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Never too old for love

Couple ties knot at Lake City Nursing Home

Photo by Kathy Jefcoats

Bride Debra Dingler is escorted to her groom by her mother-in-law, Becky Dingler.

Photo by Kathy Jefcoats Bride Debra Dingler is escorted to her groom by her mother-in-law, Becky Dingler.

By Kathy Jefcoats

kjefcoats@news-daily.com

LAKE CITY — Just one look — that's all it took.

Widow Debra Dingler said she immediately noticed the good-looking gentleman in the room across the hallway from hers. Dingler and Earl Weatherspoon are residents at Lake City Nursing Home and Rehabilitation Center.

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Photo by Kathy Jefcoats Earl Weatherspoon seals the deal with his bride, Debra Dingler.

"I said, 'I got me a fella right there,'" she said. "It was love at first sight."

The feeling was apparently mutual.

"I heard from another resident that he said if he weren't so old, he'd marry me," said Dingler. "So one day, I went up to him and said, 'Well, exactly how old are you?' He said he was 63 and I said, 'Well, I'm only 59, that's not too old to get married."

Weatherspoon, in typical guy fashion, remembers it a bit differently.

"I saw her and I thought that she was looking nice," he said. "I figured, 'I ain't getting no younger, so why not?'"

The romance culminated Thursday with a wedding at the center. Dingler's mother-in-law, Becky Dingler, escorted her down the aisle. Becky Dingler's two daughters, Kathy and Janet, were witnesses. All three chimed in, "We do," when the minister asked who gave away the bride.

"We love him," said Becky Dingler. "He calls me, 'Mom.'"

Weatherspoon was also married once before and has three sons and a daughter living in Chicago. He was born and raised in Tuscaloosa, Ala. A niece, Tanya Weatherspoon, was the only groom's relative able to attend. She is a student at Clayton State University and is thrilled to see her uncle married.

"I'm so happy for them," she said. "This just goes to show you can never be too old to find love and happiness. And he's so stubborn, too, so I'm glad he found someone."

The ceremony was held in the center's courtyard, at the apex of a walking bridge. They exchanged vows and rings before Weatherspoon sealed the deal with a long kiss, eliciting cheers and applause from the guests. Inside the dining room, staff decorated tables with red and white balloons. One table held mini strawberry shortcakes, another the pink iced wedding cake emblazoned with the date "2-14-13."

Lisa Eppinger, administrator in training at the center, said the wedding is a first for the Lake City facility.

"It has been a whirlwind romance and we're so excited," she said.

Officials at Hampton Inn at Southlake donated a room for the couple's honeymoon. After the honeymoon, the couple will return to the center where they will live in a bigger, private room with their own bathroom.