Janesville60.1°

Couple is 46th in 20-year-old group's history to marry

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ROCHELLE B. BIRKELO
May 30, 2008
— Diane Clem and Joe Shekey are like giddy teens in love.

They always are holding hands and can’t seem to get close enough.


Their joy is the opposite of the lonely lives they led until February, when the two met at a You Are Not Alone meeting.


Diane noticed Joe right away. She sat as close to him as possible at the weekly YANA gatherings for those 40 and older who are widowed, divorced or single.


At first, Joe didn’t notice. But a couple meetings later, YANA founder Doris Marcks asked Joe what he thought of Diane. He thought she was nice, so Marcks suggested they exchange phone numbers.


They did, and Joe called Diane the next night.


They got engaged 22 weeks later on their third date. They’re planning an August wedding on Joe’s Whitewater farm.


Diane and Joe will be the 46th couple to have met and married through YANA since the group started 20 years ago.


“This is a rebuilding group,” Marcks said.


Those who attend the weekly social gatherings agree.


“It’s a chance to socialize and be with folks who are having the same problems I have—loneliness,’’ said Curt Carlson, leader of YANA gatherings.


The 77-year-old widower sees a need for YANA gatherings, which he has been attending for 18 months.


Janesville widow Charlene Henderson, 70, agreed.


“It’s a chance to be with other people—not sit at home alone—and a nice night to be with friends,’’ she said.


And therein lies the success of YANA, which each week attracts about 20 people as young as 40 to as old as 94 from Janesville and surrounding communities.


Diane and Joe said they never would have met had it not been for YANA.


That’s unimaginable for Diane, 60, who was widowed after 37 years of marriage, and Joe, 73, who was married 19 years before his wife died.


Although Diane was immediately attracted to Joe, the two said they have much in common, which will make for a lasting relationship. Both grew up on farms, love animals, gardening, fishing, hunting, race cars and Harley Davidson motorcycles.


Diane cared for her mother who suffered from Alzheimer’s disease as Joe did for his wife.


“We talked about it at the first two meetings,” Diane said.


“There was just something in his touch,” Diane said of Joe’s handshake at his first YANA gathering.


Diane initially was concerned she and Joe were moving too fast in their relationship, so she sought advice from an adult daughter, who said:


“Mom, you’re too old to go slow.”


TO LEARN MORE

The You Are Not Alone social gathering for those 40 and older who are widowed, divorced or single meets at 7 p.m. Tuesdays at Emmanuel Free Methodist Church, 2618 Mount Zion Ave., Janesville.



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