One September day in 2010, Sylvia Fragner made her way to Mount Baker Theatre to see jazz pianist George Winston, one of her favorite performers.
John Williams was new to town and had been told that as a fan of old buildings he should check out the theater. He found out that Winston would be playing on his birthday, the 11th, so he bought a ticket.
Serendipitous seating put the two 60-somethings next to each another for the show.
Before the music started, Sylvia asked to borrow John’s program to see the playlist. They took up their conversation again during intermission.
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“We were just talking about each other’s lives,” Sylvia says. “He was new in town, moving to Arizona soon after.”
“It was just for a few months,” John corrects her.
“Well I didn’t know that,” she continues. “I was a widow for a year-and-a-half. I was a public health nurse. I didn’t tell him my name; no need to.”
At the end of the show, they wished one another the best and went their separate ways.
That night, John couldn’t sleep.
“I thought, ‘Well, how stupid … I didn’t get any contact information,” he says. “This fell right in your lap and you didn’t do anything about it.”
Resolved to find Sylvia, he went to the public health department first thing Monday morning, figuring there couldn’t have been too many nurses who went to the concert that weekend.
He handed a note with his name, phone number and “George Winston concert Saturday night” scrawled on it to a woman who happened to be Sylvia’s secretary and asked if she wouldn’t mind giving it to the nurse who had gone to the concert.
Sylvia got the message and the two met up just before John went to Arizona to stay near his daughter and son-in-law for awhile. They picked things right back up when he returned a few months later and started dating.
They’d been living together for a while when they took a trip to China in May 2014. While atop the Great Wall, John handed their camera to the tour guide, got down on one knee and asked Sylvia to marry him.
They were married Aug. 2 in a small ceremony on their back deck. Sylvia held an unusual bouquet from their garden.
“I put in some kale and Swiss chard, ivy and some carnations,” she says.
John’s son, who has a ministerial license, married them with a modified version of the ceremony that John’s daughter had written for her own wedding 10 years earlier.
“It was very short and wonderful,” Sylvia says.
The two retirees plan to continue chipping away at their list of world travel destinations. South America was up in late 2014, with Russia in their plans for 2015.
Plenty of people have asked them, “How do you meet somebody?”
“Based on this experience, I’ve always told them just go out and do the things you like to do. Do as many as you can,” John advises. “You never know when coincidence comes up and then you’ve got somebody who probably likes to do some of the same things as you.”