They haven’t set a date for their wedding, and they don’t know
where they’ll live.
But 73-year-old Alfonso Diaz and 78-year-old Ofelia Andreas
aren’t in a rush. They’re just starting their lives together.
They haven’t set a date for their wedding, and they don’t know where they’ll live.

But 73-year-old Alfonso Diaz and 78-year-old Ofelia Andreas aren’t in a rush. They’re just starting their lives together.

Diaz, a widower from Hollister, and Andreas, a widow from San Juan Bautista, became engaged Valentine’s Day at the Senior Center during a planned proposal in the cafeteria before lunch.

Friday’s event left a cheery mood among the 75 peers of the couple, most of whom had no idea how festive the day would truly end up being.

Balloons stuck to the ceiling. Tables were decorated with heart-shaped knick-knacks and place mats. Faces didn’t need a joke to smile.

Pauline Valdivia, executive director of Jovenes de Antano, played the role of master of ceremonies before the big moment, translating in English and Spanish for the ethnic-diverse crowd. She started by telling them about the day’s added surprise – that Diaz, in a few minutes, would propose to Andreas.

“Pilar!” she yelled into the kitchen, “Where’s the champagne?”

She corrected herself, realizing the Senior Center cannot serve alcoholic beverages – even to toast an occasion of this magnitude.

The kitchen servers, wearing ’50s-style soda jerk hats, carted out bottles of cranberry cider for each table.

The couple held hands and walked to the front of the room. Andreas, afterward, said she was remarkably nervous.

Valdivia stood to the side and again translated for the audience. Cameras flashed. The buzz of the crowd fell silent. And Diaz spoke.

“I would like to ask you to marry me, and I hope you accept my proposal.”

She did, as Diaz slid the ring onto her finger. The spectators clapped and raised glasses for a toast.

A line began to form for hugs and congratulations in a room of men and women who were married and raised children before $20,000 weddings, before digital photography and before “Who Wants to Marry a Millionaire.”

As camera flashes popped, the couple kissed, hugged and wrapped arms to drink from each other’s glass of cider. The joy of the day showed on their faces, just like it would on any 20-something couple realizing the reality of a future together.

“I’m very happy and excited,” said Andreas, who, unlike her future husband, speaks some English.

Many others were happy, too. Adeline Bartlett, for one, is a friend of the happy couple and a volunteer server at the Senior Center.

“I’m very happy for her,” Bartlett said as she carried food to the tables. “I hope both of them have a very happy life in the future.”

Moises Sada, another friend and also a volunteer server, said he knew nothing about the proposal until Friday. Most of the others in the room didn’t know, either, he said.

The last time a proposal happened at the Senior Center was eight years ago when Eulo and Leo Miller also met, were engaged and married in the same cafeteria, Valdivia said.

“I think it’s really neat,” Valdivia said. “I don’t think people should be alone if they don’t have to.”

Diaz recently approached Valdivia and told her he wanted to propose to Andreas on Valentine’s Day in front of the group. Valdivia was elated at the idea, but had just one request – that Andreas knew what was coming.

Seniors gather at the West Street location for lunch and to socialize Monday through Friday, but the meal is “just the reason to get the people together,” Valdivia said. The group plays bingo, organizes dances and takes trips to places like San Jose and San Francisco.

However, occasionally the daily socializing among friends turns into something more.

Diaz and Andrea – like the Millers before them – plan to have their wedding at the same place they met and in front of the same friends who watched them get engaged on Valentine’s Day.

“They meet here, and sometimes it doesn’t get to that point (marriage),” Valdivia said. “But this couple, they really fell in love.”

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A staff member wrote, edited or posted this article, which may include information provided by one or more third parties.


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