Retirement center hosts prom


(McClatchy) — Jack and Vivian Flaherty, both 93, recall attending their high school senior prom at Langley High School when they were 18 years old.

“She was the prettiest girl at the prom,” he said.

The couple, who’ve been married for 71 years, got to relive some old memories and create new ones when they were named king and queen of the “Senior Prom” at Vanadium Woods Village, a UPMC retirement community in Scott, on May 29.

“They are an inspiration couple in the building,” said Gina Straight, Vanadium Woods’ activities director.

The retirement community’s first prom — “Magic Under the Stars” — was the brainchild of Straight, who has worked at Vanadium Woods for seven years.

“I was looking through a magazine and thought, ‘Why not have a prom?’ and it just escalated.”

About 80 residents danced the night away with family members and friends. The evening also included desserts and a professional photographer.

“I started decorating on Thursday and you could hear the enthusiasm,” Straight said.

David Ott, who manages the building with his wife, Michelle, said only a few of the 20 employees were being paid for the night. The rest, including some high school and college servers wearing their prom dresses, volunteered their time as a show of support.

“We love how that blends together, the young, the old, to create a fun event. … It’s a neat culture developing,” David Ott said.

“We’ve been having fun. We really want to infuse life in this building. That’s our goal. You’ve got every ‘-itis.’ Arthritis, bursitis, anything you can think of by the time you’re up in your 90s. To bring that fun aspect and a reason to get out of bed in the morning, it’s pretty exciting.”

The Flahertys, who have lived at Vanadium Woods for 18 months, were surprised by being named king and queen.

“We’re overwhelmed,” Vivian said.

“Overwhelmed and underpaid,” countered Jack. “It was strictly a shock. It pays when you’re nice to everyone.”

The couple was set up by friends on a blind date when they were 18 years old. He’s from the West End and she’s from Sheraden. They lived in Green Tree before moving to Vanadium Woods.

They married in 1944 when Jack was on leave from the Air Force during World War II.

“When we met, it was love at first sight,” Vivian said.

David Mayernik Jr. is a staff writer for Trib Total Media.

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