At 85, finding love in Hermosa Beach's Sunrise Senior Living

Publish Date:

Thursday, June 30, 2016 10:22 am EDT

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The Beach Reporter

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Jeannine Koessel and Joseph McGuinness are just another pair of Hermosa Beach residents who met within the last year, fell in love, and last week, got married. But there’s a twist: these two residents live at Sunrise Senior Living, and are 85 years old.

 

“We both moved to Sunrise within a short time of each other,” said Koessel. “He’s originally from New York City, and I moved from Arizona because my children live in the South Bay. We met at one of the group activities at the center about a year ago, and decided to get married within the last three months—because we fell in love.”

 

McGuinness came to the beach cities fifty years ago, residing in the Palos Verdes area, and raising five children. Six years ago, he became a widower; and health issues led him to seek a more compact and cared-for living arrangement. Koessel became a widow in 2013. She has two children who wanted her to be closer to them in Southern California. Both found Sunrise an appealing environment, and expected to be content in their new living space. What they did not expect was to find a new life partner.

 

“When we met there was just sort of a link between us as we were talking. We sat down and ended up having a conversation that lasted over two hours. I said to myself: ‘Wow, there is something going on here,’” McGuinness laughs. “We met again the next day and talked some more. And we found that we were very compatible. As time went on, we just got to know each other even better.”

 

According to McGuinness, the atmosphere at Sunrise was conducive to their burgeoning relationship. “When you’re in an assisted living senior residence you tend to see the same people every day. You have breakfast, lunch and dinner together. If you’re attracted to someone, as we were to each other, then you spend a lot of time together.”

 

“We were always with each other,” Koessel said. “It was a gradual process. We gravitated to each other and enjoyed each other’s company. It wasn’t planned that we would be together, it just happened.”

 

Their courtship took place both at and away from the senior residence. “I’m able to drive my car,” McGuinness notes, “so we were able to get out and do things independently from the center and other residents.”

 

Spending so much time together, the couple grew even closer.

 

“It ended up a couple of months ago, we thought it was just kind of obvious we should get married, and so we did,” McGuinness explains.

 

The ceremony took place at St. James Catholic Church, and the reception at the home of McGuinness’ son John, who lives in Hermosa Beach. Several dozen family members attended the ceremony, and more than 50 guests enjoyed the reception.

 

“We didn’t want to make this a big wedding thing with lots of people and gifts. We just wanted our family present and to celebrate,” McGuinness said. “At my son’s home, we just had a wonderful time.”

 

McGuinness and Koessel were renting small apartments as singles, but Sunrise management was able to provide a larger suite for the two to share.

 

“We found a way to expand our living arrangement, which makes it that much better. We have a really nice place now,” McGuinness said.

 

“It’s really wonderful,” Koessel smiles. “This is our story: two people in their mid 80s meet, fall in love, and decide to get married—and their families like it, too.”

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