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Wendy Reuer, Published October 12 2012

A love that is ageless

FARGO - They met in a fitness class.

Jim Wilkins noticed Judy Williams across the room at Touchmark at Harwood Groves in south Fargo and decided he just had to get to know her.

He sought ways to be near her, including grabbing the seat next to her at bingo and chatting near her table at lunch.

So when the 97-year-old Wilkins finally mustered up the courage to ask 89-year-old Williams out in February, his goal was to make the evening one to remember.

Wilkins reserved an alcove table at the Radisson Hotel and escorted Williams to downtown Fargo.

“I wanted to talk and find out who she was,” Wilkins said.

After that night, the two became inseparable. When they met, Wilkins was living at Touchmark on a temporary basis. He was waiting for furniture to arrive at a Fergus Falls, Minn., apartment he planned to live in.

Wilkins moved to Fergus Falls, but drove to Fargo daily, spending all of his time with Williams.

“I put on 10,000 miles last year,” Wilkins said.

By summer, Wilkins asked his new love to be his bride.

She said she would have to think about it.

“It’s quite a big step to get married at my age,” Williams said.

She eventually said “yes” and today the couple, who haven’t yet had a disagreement or difference of opinion, will say “I do” in front of family and friends at Touchmark at Harwood Groves.

Williams’ son, Rev. Duffy Williams will officiate.

The Episcopal priest said he’s happy for his mother.

“It’ll make her life three-dimensional again,” Williams said. “She’s been very lonesome since Dad died 13 years ago. He seems like an awfully nice guy. I can see why she likes him. He’s a class act.”

Williams and Wilkins are both widowed. Williams’ husband, the father of her four children, died in 1999. Williams is a Minneapolis native who moved to Fargo in 1952 with her then-husband.

Wilkins’ wife died last year. The Battle Lake, Minn., native and former U.S. Navy lieutenant and teacher has one son and four stepchildren from his first marriage.

The couple is consolidating Wilkins’ Fergus Falls apartment and Williams’ Touchmark apartment into one home they will share at Touchmark at Harwood.

After they are settled in, the couple plan to honeymoon in Las Vegas before spending time at Williams’ timeshare in Hawaii.

The newlyweds say they chose Las Vegas for their honeymoon after hearing about the fun others have there.

An engraved bracelet on Williams’ wrist reads, “Judy and Jim.” It was a gift from Wilkins early in their courtship, one reminiscent of the pins suitors used to give their girls.

“I didn’t have a pin, so this was my way of pinning her,” Wilkins said.

“I thought it was really cute,” Williams said.

She said she will continue to wear the bracelet every day. But Williams said she will not be changing her name.

“It’s the modern thing,” she said.

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Readers can reach Forum reporter Wendy Reuer at (701) 241-5530