'Spinster Millie' gives in; aging hands tie the knot

Posted: Tuesday, March 18, 2003

MAMARONECK, N.Y. (AP) -- For three-quarters of a century, Mildred Bobe resisted flirts, turned down proposals, always found ''something wrong'' with the men who were interested. Relatives called her ''Spinster Millie.''

But she has finally made it down the aisle -- with the help of a walker festooned with roses and lace -- marrying 85-year-old Hubert Spurr, whom she met when their wheelchairs lined up together in physical therapy class at the Sarah Neuman nursing home.

They were pronounced husband and wife Feb. 13 at a nonsectarian service in the home's sunny Winter Garden, before about 100 chatty residents and one squirming baby. The audience let out a collective ''Oooh'' when Bobe appeared in her long ivory gown and squealed at each of the couple's three kisses.

Bobe, 73, accepted Spurr's proposal, and the $18 ring he bought at the nursing home gift shop, just a few weeks after meeting him. It seems he knew just the right compliment.

''He said he liked my eyes,'' Bobe said.

At the wedding, a tenor sang ''Spanish Eyes.''

While it was Bobe's first marriage, it was Spurr's third. He had come to the nursing home in March not because he had to -- he could have remained at his Port Chester home, with help -- but to stay with his second wife, who had Alzheimer's disease, after 20 years of marriage.

She died at the home in September, and Spurr, a World War II radioman, an air traffic controller and a longtime teletype operator for United Press International, was heard saying he no longer wanted to live.

In October, he met Bobe, a New York City native, as they sat in their wheelchairs in a hallway, awaiting their turns at physical therapy. She was 15 years younger than the average resident, but heart and kidney problems had taken a toll after forcing her to retire as head supervisor of data entry at Salomon Brothers. She had lost the life of Manhattan dating and dancing that kept her happy in her singleness.

''Millie and I were both very depressed, me because my wife had died and Millie because she was ill,'' Spurr said.

They talked about fishing and history. They played bingo and watched TV.

''We liked the same sort of things,'' he said. ''She was intelligent and kind and sweet, and truly, she had beautiful eyes. ... I wasn't depressed any more.''

When Bobe's sister announced that her family was moving to Seattle and suggested Bobe come with them, Spurr was able to talk her out of it, with the help of that $18 ring.

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