A couple fell in love in their 80s in a long-distance relationship

  • Roz Lewy and Ralph Insinger met at an art museum four years ago. It was 77 and 83 then.
  • They fell in love after exchanging hundreds of emails that showed their intellect and sense of humor.
  • The couple published a book about their long-distance romance that blossomed online.

When Roz Lewy’s daughter Karen asked Lewy if he would like to join one of her clients for lunch, the grandmother of six said, “Why not?”

Karen, a lawyer, had told her mom a little about the white-haired gentleman they were about to meet. “She said it reminded her of her father,” said Lewy, then a 77-year-old widow.

So did Lewy when she joined hands with Karen’s charismatic client, Ralph Insinger, a widower six years her senior.

Insinger told Insider that his “heart was beating faster” when he first saw Lewy. They met in the lobby of the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston, where Karen and Insinger lived.

They started out as friends but ended up becoming romantically involved

Lewy, a retired English teacher, was visiting the city from her hometown of Palm Beach Gardens, Florida, to spend time with her family.

The trio wandered through the exhibits. The older two talked animatedly about their favorite artists before sitting down to lunch.

“It turned out to be a really good meal,” Insinger said.

It marked the beginning of a friendship that led to romance. Insinger and Lewy — who lived 1,500 miles apart when they first met — said they got to know each other through email exchanges.

The pair sent and received hundreds of witty messages throughout their courtship – sometimes up to three a day.

Roz Lewy and Ralph Insinger cut the cake served at their engagement ceremony

Lewy and Insinger’s engagement ceremony took place in September 2020.

Courtesy of Roz Lewy

Now, more than 200 of the touching — and often hilarious — emails have been published in the book “Beyond Beyond: A Chance Encounter, an Online Courtship and the Language of Love,” released last month. Insinger said the first part of the title was inspired by a phrase of Lewy’s.

“When she’s happy or excited about something, she’ll say, ‘She’s over the moon,'” she said, noting that she often used it in their correspondence.

Lewy, the more technical of the pair, once sent Insinger a step-by-step guide to being able to “tap” television shows. The first step, he explained, was to “make friends with your remote.”

On another occasion, Insinger listed the interests and activities that kept him active. They ranged from gardening, cooking and sketching on canvas to playing with his grandchildren and doing home improvement projects.

“Yes, but can you dance?” Lewy replied, pretending not to be impressed. Insinger motioned to ignore the question in his return email. But he signed, “Not Fred Astaire.”

Lewy told Insider that another one of Insinger’s emails particularly amused her. “He said, ‘I’m sorry to put you in the back, but I have to cook,'” Lewy said.

The emails became a bit flirtatious as time went on

He said they would also discuss the cultural interests they had in common, such as literature, music and theatre.

“I’d come home at night and the first thing I’d do was pull out my computer,” said Insinger, a former architect. She added: “I would look at my inbox and see what Rose had written for that day.”

Insinger flew to Florida in February 2019 for a short visit. “We went places, ate out together and just chatted,” she said. “It was such a warm experience that, after I left, I realized there was more to it than just friendship.”

The emails started to get a little flirty. They had nicknames for each other like Presch – short for precious – Gadfly, Patriot and Squeaky Clean.

“I had come through my widowhood feeling like I was independent and didn’t really need to look for another partner,” Lewy said. But, he said, there was definitely “chemistry between us.”

She continued: “Ralph is romantic and poetic. He won me over very quickly.”

A pink and cream cake with the words,

Insinger brought the words “Ah … Love!” to appear on top of the cake served at the couple’s engagement ceremony.

Courtesy of Roz Lewy

They exchanged poems and handwritten letters. Lewy said she was fascinated when Insinger sent her a still life sketch he had done for her.

She thanked him in her next email. “I am blown away by your creativity and thoughtfulness,” she wrote. He continued: “Deep sighs seem to be the only sounds made in this beautiful silence.”

Insinger, now 86, wrote in a later email: “The sun hasn’t risen yet, but your moonlight is already making this a great day.”

The couple had a ceremony in 2020

He said they decided to “spend what time they had left together” soon after acknowledging their love.

They had a low-key engagement ceremony in September 2020, attended by close family members. Insinger said he thought of the phrase “Ah … Love!” that appeared on top of the cake. “It expresses how I felt about Rose,” he said. “We felt like we were each a gift to the other.”

The couple now divides their time between Massachusetts and Florida.

Their book came about after Lewy showed some of their emails to a friend. The friend was fascinated by the content and contacted a publisher.

“We hope that our story not only inspires the older generation, but also the younger generation,” said Lewy, now 81. He added: “It shows that you can find love in every chapter of your life.”

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