NEW HAVEN, Connecticut / New Haven Register / Metro News / September 26, 2010
By Pamela McLoughlin, Register Staff
HAMDEN — As a first-time bride, Ruth Franz’s life these last few weeks has been a whirlwind of wedding showers, cake-ordering, turning bridal shops upside down and tending to all the last minute details. Franz wants everything as perfect as possible because it’s been a long wait for Mr. Right.
Franz, of Milford, is 85 years old and the man she’ll marry Monday, Henry Jones of Wallingford, is a few years older.
Swooning when Jones explained again how the moon’s orbit affects the tides, Franz gushed: “And he has such an amazing ability to remember stuff.”
Jones, who lost his wife a year ago after some 60 years of marriage, appears just as agog and in love as his bride.
Henry Jones of Wallingford rehearses with his bride-to-be, Ruth Franz of Milford, at Grace and St. Peter’s Episcopal Church in Hamden Saturday. (Arnold Gold/Register)
“I love her dearly because of the way she thinks and the way she loves the Lord. We’re singing off the same sheet and that’s all you could want in life,” Jones said. “She’s the most wonderful woman in the world ... and she’s beautiful — I’ve always thought she was beautiful.”
Although the two had a whirlwind three-month romance — their first “date” was at the end of June — they’ve known each other for 40 years and worked side-by-side for 20 years as business partners at Franz Manufacturing Co. in New Haven, owned by Franz’s father. The company made metronomes. Franz, who took over the company in 1971, brought Jones, an engineer, on board to help run the company.
They worked together, sharing a deep Christian faith, similar values and the ability to laugh and work through problems effectively.
Jones was married with four children and Franz, young and beautiful, had her share of dates, but never found a guy she wanted to marry. Just like all little girls, Franz said she always dreamed of marrying and even has the classic shot of her modeling a wedding dress and veil as a child.
After all those years, Franz and Jones parted upon retirement and were in touch occasionally, but didn’t see each other until 20 years later when Jones called her in June.
Their first date: lunch and a church service.
Once they knew the spark was there, it didn’t take Jones long to pop the question because they had such a deep history.
When he proposed, Franz, who found security in her longtime independence, said she told Jones, “I’ll think about it.”
As she recited that story, Jones shot her a look and she changed the story quickly: “I told him I’d think about it for two minutes.”
Franz said she walked around giggling all that day.
The couple said that just like any other, they have issues to work out, including where to settle, but for now they’ll go back and forth between Wallingford and Milford. They believe love and faith will get them through. They also worked out the practical, including making sure — they got it in writing — that marrying wouldn’t reduce their social security benefits.
“Every one in a while it’s scary, but then I think, “Why not?” Franz said of tying the knot.
One thing the pair loves about one another is their respective intellects. Jones said he once advised a younger woman, “Choose a man who’s your intellectual equal and the passion will take care of itself.”
Franz has a bachelor’s degree in chemistry and a masters in botany — unusual for a woman of her day. Jones, a recreational pilot, has a masters in aeronautical engineering from MIT and a bachelors from Cornell. They also both love music — he’s an organist, she’s a violinist.
They also both are devout Christians and while they’ll marry Monday at Grace and St. Peter’s Episcopal Church in Hamden, his longtime church, her pastor from Gateway Christian Fellowship in West Haven will also participate in the service. They expect about 100 guests.
There have been varied reaction to their nuptials, including, “Wow! There must be hope for me,” and from the cynics, “What are you doing that for?”
Franz’s reaction to the latter, “Because I love him.”
Franz chose Monday to be wed because much of the family will be in town for a memorial service to be held today for Franz’s late older sister, Marie Stone.
Niece Christine Thomforde, Stone’s daughter, will be matron of honor and her brother, Franz’s nephew, Randall Stone, will give her away.
Jones’ children will attend the wedding.
“We prayed she’d get married all these years,” said Thomforde, who will wear a pink gown. “The nice thing is they knew each other years ago,” she said. “She’s a wonderful person and she’s always been content with her life, but I’m delighted they’re getting married. They’re very giddy.”
Details of Franz’s dress cannot be divulged before the wedding, as she’s determined to surprise Henry when he first lays eyes on her at church Monday, although his eyesight is somewhat compromised by macular degeneration.
But of the dress, Thomforde hints: “She’ll definitely look like a first-time bride.”
“I’m believing when I walk down that aisle and he sees me in the dress, the Lord will restore his eyesight,” Franz said.
Henry adds, “I’ll have to be careful not to shout, ‘Hallelujah!’
Thus far, Franz and her family planners have stuck with first-time bride protocol — a four-tier cake, bridal party of many, church rehearsal, followed by dinner and two showers. One of her shower gifts was a satiny white honeymoon negligee.
Following the wedding, they’ll serve cake at the church, but not a meal, “because they want to go off on their honeymoon,” to Old Saybrook, Thomforde said.
Franz said she can’t wait to see the look on the face of the hotel clerk, because they booked their room over the phone as honeymooners.
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