It began as a friendship, a man and a woman with similar experiences and common interests. Barbara Kanas was a retired nurse from Philadelphia who had lost her husband to Parkinson’s disease. Lenny Raffeo was a former Montgomery County businessman who lost his wife to Parkinson’s as well.
The two met six years ago when they moved into the Elm Terrace Gardens Continuing Care Retirement Community in Lansdale. From the moment they met, Barbara made an immediate impression on Lenny.
“She reminded me of my wife who passed away,” Lenny said. “Same mannerisms, same sweetness and kindness.”
As for Barbara, what she first noticed about Lenny was his compassion.
“He went around and helped everybody,” Barbara said. “He encouraged people and was so nice to everyone, including me. I never really thought too much about him except he was a nice and friendly fella.”
The two remained friends until a year and a half ago, when Lenny said the words that would change everything.
“I just want you to know that you’re the one,” Lenny told her. “I’ve been watching you all along.”
For Barbara, Lenny’s words made her realize her own feelings.
“We had a chorus that he encouraged me to lead for a Christmas program,” Barbara said. “He sang a solo and a friend of mine took a picture of him and gave it to me. I kept that picture by my side the whole year, not realizing that he was really interested in me until he said that.”
From that moment, the relationship progressed until the couple decided to take the next step.
“One day he said we should really consider getting married,” Barbara said.
Barbara is 81-years-old. Lenny is 87. Yet neither had any doubts that it was the right thing to do.
“We really believe that God brought us together,” Barbara said.
At first, the couple only wanted a small wedding with their families. That changed however, once the staff and residents at Elm Terrace learned the news.
Traci Connelly, the PR Director as well as staff members Toni Allebach and Marissa Filippucci planned the wedding and called on local businesses to lend a helping hand.
Koehler’s Jewelers provided the engraved wedding bands, the Rhoads Garden made the bouquet and corsages while the Distelfink Bakery made a 4-tiered wedding cake.
Barbara and Lenny got married on Saturday during an extravagant ceremony at Elm Terrace.
“It was unbelievable,” Barbara said. “Everybody here was so excited. We were sitting and reading cards that were given to us and it’s just amazing. The thoughts and wishes of everybody here.”
The newlyweds plan to visit Niagara Falls in June for their honeymoon. After that, they will continue their new lives together.
“I know we’re going to be happy for the rest of our lives,” Lenny said. “Being together will give us longevity. We are really meant for each other, there’s no doubt about it. We’re one person.”