Volunteer weds at Sunny Hill Nursing Home on 12/12/12
JOLIET – Margaret Lazarz and Patrick Haugen looked out over a sea of smiling faces as they wed at Sunny Hill Nursing Home of Will County on Wednesday afternoon.
The smiles were familiar to the bride, a member of the Peace Lutheran Church ladies ensemble, who has volunteered at the County-owned nursing home the past three years.
The group had performed there just days prior. “It kinda melted my heart. You look out and everyone is smiling.”
It is a second marriage for both Lazarz, 50, and Haugen, 56, both of whom were widowed. With five adult children and three grandchildren between them spread across Illinois, Minnesota, Mississippi and North Carolina, it was hard to plan a traditional church wedding they all could attend.
So they talked about eloping in June. But Lazarz had two conditions: she didn’t want to get married at a courthouse and she wanted her minister, the Rev. Dave Hedlin, to perform the ceremony. Haugen had another thought. “I hate to pass up the opportunity to get married on 12-12-12,” he told her. Dec. 12 was the last consecutive date series of the century.
“I said, ‘How about we get married (at Sunny Hill)?’ and he said ‘sure.’”
Sunny Hill Administrator Karen Sorbero was happy to oblige. “This is truly a great day, and we thank Margaret and Patrick for sharing their day with the residents of Sunny Hill. Our residents and staff are blessed to be active partners of such a kind and giving community, continuing their traditions of giving and receiving, which enhances their quality of life every day.”
Lazarz and Haugen were equally as happy to share. “Here we are (in love) again. God gives us blessings,” said Lazarz.
She had been married for 28 years and he 32 before losing their spouses to illness.
‘This is who I am’
The pair met on Christian Mingle, a dating website. She lives in New Lenox and he in Aurora. For their first date, on Oct. 3, 2011, they met at a Panera Bread in Bolingbrook. It was her first date in 30 years.
That day, her daughter had called and told her that she’d been so worried about her mom meeting a stranger for dinner that she’d been unable to sleep. During dinner that night, Lazarz told Haugen about her daughter’s fears.
On their second date, he slid a long envelope across the table and told her it was for her daughter, but Lazarz could look. Inside were copies of his driver’s license, passport, utility bills and his wife’s obituary.
He said after hearing about her daughter’s concerns he started thinking, “what if it was my daughter or wife sitting here?” with no idea if the man was who he said he was. “This is who I am.”
As they got to know each other, they discovered they have much in common. Each has a sister named Rita who is two years younger than them, both sing in their church choir (he belongs to Faith Lutheran Church in Aurora), are involved with their church’s activities and do volunteer work.
They discovered their children, now ages 28-32, attended the same Bible camp in Wisconsin and may even have attended at the same time – they haven’t figured that one out yet.
Lazarz wore a cocktail dress and carried a small bouquet at the wedding. Her parents, Kurt and Rita Seehofer of the Orland Park area, attended. The groom, whose parents are deceased, wore a suit and tie, festooned with a boutonniere. Those sitting in the cafeteria to watch held carnations from the couple.
“I thought if I looked out and they’re holding flowers it would make me happy.”
And, of course, there was wedding cake.
In addition to Peace Lutheran’s Hedlin, its organist, Todd Yetman, provided the accompaniment and sang.
“We’re very excited to start our lives together,” said the smiling groom.