Super Seniors: Bill and Marlene O'Connor - WCAX.COM Local Vermont News, Weather and Sports-

Super Seniors: Bill and Marlene O'Connor

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If there's a couple who seem destined to be together it might be the O'Connors. Joe Carroll went down memory lane with this week's Super Seniors.

Vermont is graying. It's no different in Bellows Falls where the population now hovers around 3,000. Many remember a time when it was a bustling manufacturing town.

"I would say it's one of the most active places in town," said Bill O'Connor. 

Much of that manufacturing is gone now, but many of the former workers remain.

Their hangout is the senior center. Downstairs, it's puzzles and card games.

"Rise and play the piano and squeeze," said Marlene O'Connor.

Upstairs, the senior set is stretching, including the husband and wife team of Marlene and Bill. The class is called Bone Builders. It's designed to build balance and strength that the couple will need in just a few minutes.

"We definitely have fun," said Marlene. 

Marlene and Bill serve and clean up for their peers.

"I just love it, I just love the people," said Marlene.  

"You got to give something back in life," said Bill.

Their world together goes back a lifetime.

"Of course, it's changed a lot since we have lived here," said Marlene.  

On Gove Street, about 70 years ago, that loved bloomed. Bill living at No. 4 and Marlene at No. 2, they would hang out together on the porch.

"This was his house that was his front porch. And this was our house," said Marlene. 

Marlene's house was the gathering place. Her folks had a new invention called the television.

"And every kid in the neighborhood, it was like going to the movies, they'd come and my mother would set it up on the dining room table," said Marlene.

Their homes were attached and so were they.

"I thought he was handsome, but mostly he was just very kind," said Marlene. 

"I was very happy with what I saw," said Bill. 

It was also a more innocent time for the mostly Irish Catholic neighborhood up on the hill.

"We'd play 'hide and go seek' and I didn't hide," said Marlene. 

Bill could see a future with the young Marlene. After a stint in the Army, he rushed home to Bellows Falls.

"I came in the front door, he came out the back door. I went out the back door, he came in the front door. And after we did this three times, his aunts and uncles and cousins were standing on the street and hollered, 'Marlene, stay on the front porch. Bill, she's on the front porch.' And then he came and we hugged and kissed and that was it," said Marlene. 

Marriage came shortly after along with three kids.

Reporter Joe Carroll: It sounds like you two are a team.  

Marlene: We are.  

Bill: We are, it's almost mental telepathy after all these years. 

But there have been challenges. Bill had esophageal cancer; it took him two years to recover.

Carroll: Does it make you appreciate life more?  

Marlene: Oh absolutely.

Bill: Oh, you better believe it. Every day is a bonus.

The couple are now in their early 80s and the senior center is their second home.

"I don't know, I just get such a warm feeling and I've met so many people and made so many friends, I just enjoy it," said Marlene. 

It's a blue collar town made a little richer by a couple of Super Seniors.

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