Skip to Main Content

News

A Royal Wedding: Royal Park Place Residents Find Love in Zeeland

When Dan Wolma moved to Royal Park Place in 2019, he was recently widowed—only a few days earlier. He certainly wasn’t looking to marry. In fact, he wasn’t looking for much of anything. He had been the sole caretaker for his ailing wife for the last seven years, and after his wife passed away, he says he “had a bit of a pity party.”

“I have grandkids at Hope College, and they would call me to check on me and ask if I’d eaten anything. So I would go to a meal, but then I went back to my apartment to be alone,” Dan says. “Then one day Hal, one of the guys here, came to my door and invited me to play pinochle. I told him I didn’t know how to play. He says, ‘Well, you’re going to learn. It’s time you got out of your apartment.’ And that’s the day my life began again.”

Then Meri Beth Lefebre moved into Royal Park Place in 2020. She had been widowed for a few years herself. Like Dan, she was one of the younger residents at the retirement community. Someone told her about Dan, saying, “I know a man you have to meet.” 

Meri Beth tried to meet Dan, but it didn’t work out; Dan was a busy man who spent much of the year in Florida. But he was surprised when he returned from his trip to find that Meri Beth now lived right across the hall from him. “So much of our story is about God working things out exactly how they were supposed to,” he says, “all leading up to something really special.”

They started talking and learned that their paths had been close to each other in life. Both grew up in the Grand Rapids area, and both attended Grand Rapids Christian School, but they’d never met. They each had three children and plenty of grandkids and great-grandkids, and they both were Christians who had been widowed. They had much in common and got along well.

Their first date was getting ice cream in Saugatuck, Michigan, on a warm Sunday afternoon. That led to eating meals together, going to concerts together, and enjoying other Royal Park activities while getting to know each other. But then Dan left for his yearly Florida trip.

“I left and figured it would all dry up,” Dan says. “Well, it didn’t. I just kept thinking about her.”

Meri Beth came down to Florida to stay with a friend and spend more time with Dan. “We knew we had a decision to make,” Dan says. “We could just date, or we could set an example for our  families and get married.”

On August 13th, 2023, with their children standing up for them and their entire extended families in attendance, Dan and Meri Beth married at Family Church, where they both attend. “The pastor looked at our big families, 40-50 people, then looked at us,” Dan says. “He said, ‘Boy, are you two blessed.’ And he’s right.” After the wedding, the couple honeymooned in Glen Arbor, Michigan.

“This is just a new chapter for a short time in our lives so we can enjoy time on earth together,” Dan says. “The kids are all on board and couldn’t be more happy and supportive of us.”

Though they both moved to Royal Park Place as widows, they have no plans to leave the community that brought them together. Instead, they moved into a two-bedroom apartment where they say they are quite happy. “Royal Park has become our home, and the people here have become our family,” Meri Beth says. “Both of us feel very comfortable here. We’ve got friends here and go to concerts together with other couples.”

Dan talks about how many of his neighbors checked on him recently when he had a bad cold. “When you get older, a lot of times you lose friends,” Dan says. “But not at Royal Park. You gain them.”

Dan and Meribeth used to spend much of their time out and about as singles, traveling and visiting. Since marrying they still spend a of time out and about—only now, they’re together.

Previous

Previous

Next

Next

Back