Valentine's Day: Octogenarians find love again in Merced

tmiller@mercedsunstar.comFebruary 14, 2014 

It took about 70 years, but David Wenrich finally decided to ask Lorraine out on a date.

“I had a crush on him in high school,” Lorraine Wenrich, 89, said. “I still do. I was 14 years old, and you know what those crushes are like.”

The retired Merced couple has now been married about 5 1/2 years, but she remembers wishing he would ask her out when they were students at Merced High School.

Lorraine Wenrich was born in 1924 and raised on a Franklin-area sweet potato, alfalfa and yam farm that dabbled in dairy production. David Wenrich was born the previous year in Watsonville, but his family moved to the Merced area in 1924 to open Wenrich Lumber Co.

Both fans of music and members of the Merced High band, they first met when she was a freshman and he was a sophomore. Lorraine Wenrich said she remembers a time they were on a band trip for a picnic at Bass Lake. The seats were all taken on the bus, so he offered up his lap.

“So I sat on his lap, behind the big bass drum. But he didn’t follow up on it,” she said. “We never dated because he didn’t ask me. Explain that one.”

David Wenrich graduated in the Merced High class of 1941 and started at UC Berkeley before joining the Navy during World War II. He eventually returned to finish school at UC Berkeley and went to work at the San Francisco Medical Society. Lorraine Wenrich was in Merced working as a nurse, secretary, bookkeeper and several other jobs over the years.

Music continued to be a big part of their lives. He was one of the founding members of the alumni band at UC Berkeley, and she helped begin what is now the Merced Symphony Association.

Lorraine Wenrich’s then-husband Ed Murphy died in 2001, and David Wenrich’s wife, Fran, passed in 2003. A few years later, David Wenrich, now a father of four and a grandfather to four, decided he would ask his old bandmate, a mother of two and a grandmother of two, to a Merced High Class of 1941 get-together.

“I almost dropped the phone,” she said.

The couple was married July 27, 2008, inside St. Luke’s Episcopal Church, which now goes by the Anglican denomination. Her daughter was the bridesmaid and one of his sons was the best man.

The couple had to work around the pastor’s vacation schedule, and it just so happened that their anniversary would have be the same day as Lorraine Wenrich’s late husband’s birthday.

“I know he would want me to marry again,” Lorraine said. “And, what difference do dates mean.”

Well, it took 70 years, but one date made a difference.

 

Sun-Star staff writer Thaddeus Miller can be reached at (209) 385-2453 or tmiller@mercedsunstar.com.

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