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Love stories reign in Lakewood Ranch

Valentines tell their own love stories during Music on Main in Lakewood Ranch.

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With Valentine's Day fast approaching, love is in the air all over the Lakewood Ranch area.

So what better place to find love stories than Music on Main?

The East County Observer went to Lakewood Main Street on Feb. 4 to ask couples how they managed to find their Valentine.

Here are five of the responses from East County couples.

Joyce and Allen Kretschmar
Joyce and Allen Kretschmar

Joyce and Allen Kretschmar

It was two decades ago when Joyce Kretschmar accepted the role of a chorus girl in a Sarasota musical production of Jekyll and Hyde. She did it to please her brother, who was also in the play.

Once on stage, though, Joyce met her future husband Allen, who was playing the titular Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde.

“I couldn’t resist his beautiful baritone,” Joyce said. “And I fell instantly in love.”

As the only adults in a cast of students, the two gravitated toward each other and were soon involved in a romance. Although they were initially coy about their feelings, on Valentine’s Day things began to change.

“Allen was trying to be sneaky about letting me know that he was more than interested,” Joyce said. “So he bought all the girls in the cast a small Valentine’s Day card and a small box of chocolates. And then he gave me a real Valentine’s Day card and a real box of chocolates.”

Soon, a romance was blooming. “It’s pretty rare for romances to survive beyond the show,” Joyce said. “Usually it’s a fling and then it’s over.”

However, the couple have been together for 20 years.

Joyce and Allen dreamed of getting married in Las Vegas, the wedding spot of many of Allen’s stage idols. They soon found a solution that did not require a compromise with their families, who lived in Sarasota. They packed their wedding dress and tux and took photographs in front of Vegas landmarks.  

“We had the best of both worlds,” she said. “A great wedding here and a fantasy wedding there.”

Shawn Marie Spears and Torrey Spears
Shawn Marie Spears and Torrey Spears

Shawn Marie Spears and Torrey Spears

At a time when all her friends seemed to be married with children, Shawn Marie found her thoughts suddenly drifting back to Torrey, a high school friend who she hadn't seen in five years.

She looked through her things and found Torrey’s senior high school photo and his letters to her, and she placed them inside her wallet. But it was the early 2000s, a time before social media had exploded, and she felt she had no way to get in contact with him.

Two months later, she received an unexpected email message: “Hey Shawn Marie, it’s Torrey, remember me?”

“When I read it, I screamed out loud at work,” she said.

“I always thought about her, and I wrote her a letter when I was in college,” Torrey said. “We connected here and there, but it wasn’t until like four or five years later that I said, ‘I wonder if Shawn Marie Robinson is on Classmates?’

In order to find her email address, Torrey bought a subscription to the website.

Soon, Shawn Marie drove north to Orlando, where Torrey was living, and by next year, Torrey had asked her to marry him.

It turned out Torrey had kept a picture of Shawn Marie as well. “Her picture was the first one I ever scanned when I bought a computer scanner,” he said.

“It’s really a story of fate,” Torrey said. “We had no business connecting after being gone for all that time, then she tells me she thought about me.”

“It was just meant to be,” the couple said in unison.

Torrey and Shawn Marie say people should never give up on their dreams.

Molly and Joe Lisciandro
Molly and Joe Lisciandro

Molly and Joe Lisciandro

Molly and Joe Lisciandro were walking home from a band concert on their college campus in Pennsylvania when they first met. “There was a girl in front of us,” Molly said. “He wanted to ask her out, but he tried to and she declined because she had just gotten engaged. So we talked all the way back to the dormitories, and then he asked me out.”

Thanks to this small twist of fate, the couple have been married for 46 years. In addition to having two children and 13 grandchildren, they’re also proud of their “bicentennial wedding” which fell on July 3, 1976 and was complete with red, white, and blue decorations.

Catherine and Steven Larson
Catherine and Steven Larson

Catherine and Steven Larson

Before the days of computer dating, things were done a little differently.

Years ago, Steven placed an ad for himself in the classifieds of the Twin Cities Reader, a now-defunct newspaper for the Minneapolis–St. Paul area. “That was how we did it back then,” he said. Soon, his future wife Catherine had answered the ad, and they were dating.

However, it wasn’t an easy relationship to work out, as the couple lived on opposite sides of the metropolitan area. Also, they both already had children and had to blend their families together. They overcame the obstacles and the children began to get along extremely well.

Summarizing their love story, Catherine said, “We’ve been together for 26 years, and we have raised our children, and we have travelled all over, and we now have settled in Florida because it’s our time to be warm and have activities and do fun things together.”

The couple moved from Minnesota to Florida in October. “We love it a lot,” Steven said. “We’re in a nice community and we like our neighbors and friends.”

Charly and Silvia Andrade
Charly and Silvia Andrade

Charly and Silvia Andrade

Charly and Silvia Andrade first met as teenagers, when she came from Mexico to the United States on her 15th birthday — her quinceañera — because of the marriage of her uncle to his aunt.

Charly soon developed a crush on Silvia, and they became pen pals.

But life began to get in the way. Charly joined the military and participated in Operation Desert Storm, then they both went on to marry other people. Twenty-four years later, with both divorced and with kids, they connected on Facebook and began a relationship.

“She would come to the United States, and I would go to Mexico, for eight years,” Charly said. “Then I proposed, and we got married.”

In June, Charly finally retired after a 30-year military career as an air marshal, and the couple are thrilled to now call East County their home.

“I’m from California originally, so it’s a major change for us,” he said. “It’s a slower pace of life, and everybody’s friendly – it’s just an awesome community. We love hiking and nature. We wake up to sandhill cranes at our window. It’s a great environment and great people.”


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