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Feature story: Splendor in the grass

Palo Altans Jean Wren and George Marotta met and married at the Palo Alto Lawn Bowls

Palo Altan George Marotta, 83, recalled the day he made his first move toward kindling a romance with Jean Wren.

The two had met playing lawn bowls on the closely cropped grass at the Palo Alto Lawn Bowls Club in early 2005.

"It was a sunny day on March 19, and I had been a member for many years of the club and Jean just joined that year. She wasn't there one day so I sent her an e-mail and told her -- or implied -- that I missed her," Marotta recalled.

Wren, 67, a retired Stanford Chemistry Department lecturer, and Marotta, a retired Stanford Research Analyst, married in July 2009, holding their wedding reception at the lawn bowls on Embarcadero Road. The guests bowled, or course, Wren said.

Marotta recently recalled how their romance blossomed. What had started as an online communication and e-mail exchanges soon turned into a date.

"Our first date was sort of a coffee date at Hobee's," Marotta said.

Wren added, "This was the first time we talked together one-on-one. Our next date was a picnic in the park."

Wren and Marotta both were married previously. Both of their spouses died in 2002, according to Marotta.

"At least on my part, I didn't think I could fall in love again," he said.

Wren didn't think it was possible for her to fall in love again either and was just looking for company in the beginning of their relationship, she said.

Love and relationships go through different stages of development, Wren said.

In the beginning, it starts with mutual attraction; then when a couple starts to know each other it develops into love, Wren said.

Marotta said that for seniors companionship is wonderful, and love is just the icing on the cake.

"I think the madly-in-love thing is more when you are younger, and as you get older it's more about appreciation of the other person as an individual," he said.

What is the secret to everlasting love or a long relationship?

Keep the lines of communication open and recognize each person has a certain need for privacy, Wren said.

As in any marriage, there are always some disagreements.

"I think we are very tolerant because we have opposite political views that we respect and try to understand," Marotta said.

It also helps if a couple enjoys doing things together. Wren and Marotta enjoy traveling and are planning a trip to Europe this year. When not lawn bowling, traveling or socializing, the couple holds seminars together at Stanford about gender equality, they said.

How will they celebrate Valentine's Day?

"Since we've only been married since July, Valentine's Day is not important because every day is Valentine's Day, and we're sort of on our honeymoon still," Marotta said. "Every week we have three to four dates."

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