It’s never too late to find love: Mary, Johnny Smith enjoy their ‘ordinary days’

Newlyweds Johnny and Mary Smith stand in their home. [DAN BUSEY/TIMESDAILY]

By Chelsea Retherford | Living 50 Plus

Mary Calvert Smith knows it’s never too late to find love. However, if you had asked her whether getting hitched was still an option for her four years ago, she might have had a grimmer outlook.

“I had determined that I would be single the rest of my days. I had already concluded,” she said. “I was content, I guess, but yeah, I was hurt. I thought I would get married like all my friends did when they were 18, and it never happened. That’s okay.”

When Johnny Smith had asked her out to dinner in December of 2021, Mary admits she hadn’t had much dating experience up to that point.

Nevertheless, at age 64, she found herself jumping headfirst. The couple had their first date just before Christmas of 2021, and by Christmas of 2022, Mary was flaunting an engagement ring.

She’d never been married before, but Johnny, now 78, had. He said he had been divorced from his first wife for about 14 years when he finally got the courage to ask Mary out.

“We’d known each other about 30 or 40 years through church,” he said, explaining that he and his new bride were both involved in the Faith Church Classics Group for members 55 and older.

“The Classics had an Elvis impersonator that was going to be there for a Christmas dinner. I wanted to go, but I didn’t want to go by myself,” Johnny said. “I thought about Mary, and I’d never really thought about anybody else.”

Johnny, who retired from TVA in 2009 after 42 years, admitted he took notice of Mary even outside of church. Knowing she worked at Milner Rushing Pharmacy, he said there were times he’d drive by, hoping to see her. Little did he know, she’d taken notice of him, too.

“Yeah, he’d come over and talk to me sometimes, and it meant a lot to me,” Mary said. “I saw that good looking man sitting over there on the other side of the church.”

The couple said they shared many interests and values besides being devoted Christians. They each loved to travel, and they were both pet lovers. It also didn’t hurt that they found good, easy conversation with one another, Johnny said.

Dating in her 60s was more than Mary said she’d hoped for. When Johnny popped the question — sort of — she said she was elated and not apprehensive at all.

“I knew it was right. Everything about it. I felt like I just floated on a cloud right into it,” she said, adding that Johnny never actually proposed. Rather, he worked in the topic of marriage as they were having a conversation about insurance.

“I was about to turn 65, so I was asking him some questions,” she recalled with a laugh. “He said, ‘Well, you’ll be on my insurance.’ I said, ‘Oh, are we getting married? Okay.’”

Mary said her family, including her parents, who are 88 and 91 years old, were overjoyed with the news. Throughout their relationship, Johnny had been there for Mary through some medical ups and downs, and Mary said her Daddy wouldn’t give her away to just anybody.

The Smiths tied the knot on March 18 where Mary’s parents, Bobby and Nell Calvert, attend at Lexington First Methodist.

“Daddy’s got dementia, and he was really nervous about giving me away,” Mary said. “Both of my parents got to be there, and my family put the little wedding on. My nieces did the flowers. My sister did the cake. They just did it all.”

The couple asked their “favorite pastor,” Henry Nelson, to officiate, and several of their Classics friends were in attendance as well.

“When we went over to ask Brother Henry if he would marry us, he said, ‘So, tell me, how did this happen?’ I think everybody was surprised,” Johnny said.

Though he finds love even sweeter his second time around, he advises others his age to weigh their decision carefully before jumping into marriage.

“You want to make sure you get the right one,” he said. “It helps to have the same interests, and at this age, you’re a little more considerate of each other. You have to really love the person. As a man, you can get set in your old ways. You go when you want to go and where you want to go, and now, I ask, ‘Where do you want to go?’”

It can be really hard to change old habits, but Mary agrees about getting older and finding love after 60.

“We’re just respectful to each other,” she said. “We enjoy each other. We love the ordinary days.”

“I am blessed. I love this woman,” Johnny added. “She’s a sweet lady, and I couldn’t have asked for anyone better. She is more than I have ever hoped for.”