Finding Love After 60: Nancy Stowell-Freiberg and Duane Freiberg

By Gary Linehan September 15, 2016 13:02

Older adults are marrying in record numbers. What’s it like to find new love later in life? Four couples told their stories to FAN in the Autumn 2016 issue.  Read their stories here: Susan Schlindwein and Bob Hornauer, Jeanne Rittenhouse and Bob Myers, Dana and Monty Youngborg



Duane and Nancy

Duane and Nancy

“People are always saying I look happy again.” So says Nancy Stowell-Freiberg, 69, bride of 76-year-old Duane Freiberg.

The Calaveras County newlyweds – both great-grandparents – married Aug. 27 at Lake Tahoe following a yearlong courtship that began with a chance encounter at a San Andreas restaurant.

A lifelong Valley Springs resident, Nancy had no intention of remarrying after her husband of 25 years, Roland, died of cancer in 2011.

Last year cancer also claimed Duane’s wife, Vivian, days before their 55th wedding anniversary. Duane, who lives near Wallace, had not ruled out the idea of marrying again but did not think it would happen so quickly.

“I enjoyed being married, and before Vivian passed she told me she hoped I would find somebody else,” Duane recalls. “She didn’t want me to spend the rest of my life by myself.”

“I was just the opposite,” says Nancy. “I was not even interested in dating. I was going to church, had my own interests and didn’t think I needed anything else. I said I was happy, even though I really wasn’t … That was before I met Duane.”

Both believe their strong Christian faith helped their romance flourish. “It was the Lord’s timing that got us together,” Nancy says.

It all began when Duane and his daughter, Sheila, visited The Pickle Patch deli for lunch one day in June 2015. Sheila and Nancy’s daughter Staci are friends, and Staci happened to be there for a Chamber of Commerce meeting.

A month earlier, Sheila had mentioned to her father that she had someone she wanted him to meet.

“I had never met Duane,” recalls Staci, the Calaveras Chamber’s executive director.

“When he left to use the restroom that day Sheila came over and said, ‘We need to introduce my dad to your mom.’ So we kind of teared up and hugged. That’s how it happened.”

After lunch, Sheila told her dad that Staci’s mom was the woman she was talking about. She suggested he call her.

A year earlier, Staci had told her mother “point blank” that she needed to get out more.

“She had so much to offer,” Staci says. “But she felt she was not worthy of love after my dad died. That broke my heart.

I told her there could be some man out there who has lost his wife and is praying for companionship. She’d be robbing him of a blessing.”

Three days after the Pickle Patch encounter, Duane called Nancy. “I said, ‘Our daughters want to get us together,’ and invited her to lunch,” Duane says.

“It was a little bit awkward,” Nancy recalls of that first meeting. “Both of us were very nervous, and neither of us had dated for many years. But we hit it off and started dating.”

“I have a close relationship with the Lord and believe he delivered me to Nancy,” adds Duane. “She is one of the most wonderful people I have ever met.”

Nancy says it helps that they share many common interests, including travel. “And he’s such a gentleman. He treats me like a queen. I just love him.”

“I feel the same way – she’s very easy to get along with,” Duane says. “We like the same foods, we like Bill O’Reilly and we like most of the same television programs.”

Duane and Nancy each have four children and eight grandchildren, and six great-grandchildren between them.

Nancy’s family owned and operated the Pliler and Lillie grocery store on Highway 12 in Valley Springs from 1918 to 2003. Her grandfather founded the store, which her father and uncle later took over. When her dad died in 1978, Nancy and her mom joined her uncle in running the business. In 2003, the family sold the market, which has since become a Dollar Plus store.

Duane was born in Minnesota, but his family moved to Oregon in the early 1940s. He graduated from high school in Eugene and joined the Navy, completing two years of active duty and four of reserve service. The last two years were spent in Stockton, where he met Vivian.

The couple married in 1960. Duane opened a Farmers Insurance office the same year and ran it in Stockton for 47 years, turning it over to Sheila in 2007. He has lived on the shores of Camanche Reservoir since 2001, and now shares the home with his new wife.

They stay busy traveling, including a two-week RV trip to Utah for their honeymoon followed by a week in Hawaii. Duane golfs several days a week, while Nancy is active with her church and family. She also volunteers at the Calaveras Chamber of Commerce.

This time around, the newlyweds are not making any long-range plans other than to enjoy each other’s company for as long as possible.

“You never know what’s around the next corner,” Nancy says. “You just have to trust the Lord and enjoy the time you have left together.”

Copyright © 2016 Friends and Neighbors Magazine

By Gary Linehan September 15, 2016 13:02
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