An old-fashioned love story | January 15, 2010 | Palo Alto Weekly | Palo Alto Online |

Palo Alto Weekly

News - January 15, 2010

An old-fashioned love story

Two seniors at Palo Alto Commons find romance — a second time

by John Squire

"I asked her to marry me," Bill Hahn said on a recent weekday afternoon, holding his fiancee's hand in her cozy apartment in the Palo Alto Commons senior community on El Camino Way.

"We were sitting out on the veranda together," Colleen Coleman said. "He looked at me and said... Do you remember what you said, Bill?

"He said, 'I'd like you to be my wife.' I thought about it for a second and said, 'OK, I will.'"

"He didn't get down on one knee. I didn't expect him to. He might not have gotten up," she said with a smile.

With 118 years of combined experience being married, Hahn and Coleman decided to take the plunge again this week. Hahn is 85 and Coleman 84. They met at Palo Alto Commons.

"Falling in love when you're 84 makes a lot more sense than when you're 18," Coleman said. "You look for different qualities. You look for what's inside not outside, and that's a big deal.

"I'd recommend everybody marry after 80," she said.

What ended up as love started out as something else entirely.

When Hahn and Coleman first met, Hahn was still married. His wife was moved to Palo Alto Commons in 2007 for what turned out to be end-of-life treatment. Hahn had been a loving, diligent husband and was with his wife through 10 years of illnesses and medical complications. Hahn's wife died April 22.

"He was just so depressed and morose. We just became acquainted having dinner at the same time every night. If he was sitting alone, I'd talk to him," Coleman said.

Being an optimistic, kind person, Coleman said she couldn't bear to see someone else in so much pain. She reached out to Hahn, and the two found they had a lot in common.

"He's my best friend here. We get along so well together," she said leaning into him.

Neither expected anything more than friendship. The relationship was platonic but soon turned symbiotic.

"He's my eyes, and I can be his legs," said Coleman, who is legally blind.

Hahn uses a walker to get around.

"It was between the Apple computer and the Bible" that brought them together, Hahn said.

"And the fact that he's a sweet, wonderful man," Coleman added.

Hahn would read verses from the Bible to Coleman and Coleman would teach Hahn how to use the new laptop his son bought him.

"He got really dependent on me. He couldn't live without me." Coleman laughed.

The two listened to music, talked about faith and politics and took weekly walks to Starbucks.

"Then there was that night," Coleman said.

After knowing each other for two years, the idea came to Coleman that it would be a good idea to have Hahn escort her to dinner. It was to be a big night at the Palo Alto Commons dining room, with dancing and a live band.

"I sat here, and I waited and waited. Finally, I went downstairs to look for him. He was just sitting there waiting for me," Coleman said.

"Afterwards, he walked me to the door. I felt like kissing him, so I did," she said.

Coleman said that, looking back, it wasn't surprising they fell in love. But it also wasn't anything they sought or expected.

"I would never guess I'd find another love like Colleen. It's unbelievable to me," Hahn said, his voice cracking.

The couple has asked that their wedding plans be kept private but said it would involve a small ceremony at their church, with a big reception afterwards.

For the first time, Hahn will be a grandfather.

"I'm picking up about 30" new family members, he joked.

After a honeymoon to Half Moon Bay, the couple plan to move into a larger apartment — in Palo Alto Commons.

Editorial Intern John Squire can be contacted at


Posted by Debbie Ford-Scriba, a resident of another community
on Jan 12, 2010 at 10:37 am


Posted by Romanticizer, a resident of another community
on Jan 12, 2010 at 10:55 am

I would imagine the emotions run much deeper at 85!

Posted by Byline, a resident of Community Center
on Jan 12, 2010 at 11:17 am

"Yes on Prop 8" would frown upon this marriage, as their primary purpose is not procreation.

Posted by Good one, a resident of Fairmeadow
on Jan 12, 2010 at 11:43 am

I love how he says he's picking up 30 grandchildren. Good one!

Posted by Sylvia, a resident of Midtown
on Jan 12, 2010 at 12:19 pm

What a heartwarming story! These two sound like wonderful people. This made my day.

Posted by Nancy, a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Jan 12, 2010 at 12:34 pm

Best wishes to the happy couple!

Posted by Cieboy, a resident of Barron Park
on Jan 12, 2010 at 12:56 pm

Sweet!Best wishes!

Posted by LInda, a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Jan 12, 2010 at 1:17 pm

Colleen you give hope to all the single women out there.

Good Luck you crazy kids!

Posted by Vienna, a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Jan 12, 2010 at 10:49 pm

This is such a touching story! Congratulations to the happy couple.

Posted by Gigi, a resident of Menlo Park
on Jan 13, 2010 at 10:09 am

Lovely story!

Posted by Sf reader, a resident of another community
on Jan 13, 2010 at 12:48 pm

Love this story!

Posted by Marie, a resident of East Palo Alto
on Jan 13, 2010 at 1:03 pm

I love this story! Her eyes, his legs. Congratulations to the happy couple. Much love and health. So sweet.

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