Prime Time: Couple find right chemistry at senior living community
GREENFIELD Manuel Aven, 87, a retired General Electric Co. research chemist, never thought he would marry again after his wife died six years go.
But last fall, Aven, who was born in Estonia in 1924, said he “met a girl.”
She was Irene “Reina” Bluhm, who is in her late 60s.
Manny and Reina were married on April 20 at Prestwick Chase at Saratoga, the senior living community on Saratoga Boulevard off Denton Road in Greenfield.
“It’s a new life, an unexpected life. At my age you think about the other life,” Manny Aven said.
Aven and Bluhm had been living in apartments on different wings of the senior community just north of Saratoga Springs but didn’t know each other.
Then a “wing ding” social event was held in October so residents of the different wings could get to know their fellow residents over coffee and cookies.
That’s when Manny met Reina. He thanked Prestwick marketing director Kathy Bowen as the one responsible for his meeting “this wonderful girl.”
Last fall, Manny and Reina started dining together in Prestwick’s Commodore Dining Room. He proposed to her in February.
The wedding was performed at Prestwick Chase by former Saratoga Springs City Judge Lawrence LaBelle, with more than 100 family, friends and fellow residents attending the carefully planned event.
“They did such a wonderful job on our wedding. They outdid themselves,” Reina said.
Prestwick Chase activities director Kellie Posthelwaite coordinated the event over a two-month period. The wedding was held in Prestwick’s Congress Hall and portions of the reception held in other areas of the main building.
The Avens honeymooned at the Mirror Lake Inn at Lake Placid.
Prestwick officials say there was one other wedding between two Prestwick Chase residents some years ago but it was held elsewhere.
Weddings at retirement communities in the Capital Region are relatively rare. Officials at Coburg Village, the retirement community off Grooms Road in Rexford, said they have never had such a wedding at their facility. There have been residents of Coburg Village who have dated each other but never a wedding.
There also has never been a wedding at the Glen Eddy senior living community off Consaul Road in Niskayuna, community relations director Sue Gamello said, though a recently married couple had moved to Glen Eddy.
Manny and Reina have moved from their individual apartments in the main Prestwick Chase complex to one of Prestwick’s nearby, two-bedroom cottages.
Aven, who graduated from the prestigious Estonian Academy of Music and Theater, received a doctorate in chemistry from the University of Pittsburgh after coming to the United States in 1949.
He managed research departments at General Electric for 40 years, first in Cleveland and then in Schenectady. He retired in 1992 as a GE consultant in Hungary.
He has written several books, is a three-time Adirondack 46er mountain climber, and has bicycled and climbed mountains throughout Europe.
He said he climbed the 46 high peaks in the Adirondacks with his oldest son, then he and both his two sons climbed the 46 high peaks together, and then he climbed them again alone later in his life.
Reina is a graduate of West Palm High School in Florida and Hudson Valley Communtiy College. She also attended the University of Illinois. She was a dental hygienist at dental practices in Schenectady and Niskayuna for many years. Most recently she owned her own business, Lakeview Property Management in Lake George. She had been married twice before.
Both Manny and Reina have two sons. Manny’s son Michael and his wife and children traveled from Germany to attend the wedding.
Aven continues to go regularly to Schenectady, where he has been on the steering committee of the Union College Adult Academy of Lifelong Learning. He is also a member of the American Chemical Society, New York Academy of Sciences and is a fellow of the American Physical Society.
“He’s up at 4 a.m. or 5 a.m. and starts his exercises,” Reina said. Since they have married, though, he has been getting up a bit later so they can exercise in the morning together.
He said he has a 90-minute daily workout program during which he uses a stationary bike, a rowing machine, and weights.
He is a musician and has played flute, cello, violin and piano over the years.
One of the books he wrote, “Up, Down and Sideways,” is about his adventures in mountain climbing, rock climbing, and skiing in Europe and the United States.
“He’s a wonderful, kind person,” Reina said.
For her wedding present, he gave his bride a new Lincoln sedan.