Octogenarians fall in love at Oak Trace senior living community in Downers Grove

They met in the trash room, and everything changed.

Irene Stange and Bob Neder are residents of Oak Trace in Downers Grove. They both enjoyed active lives at the senior living community, participating in fitness, programming, outings, and more. Neither of them had given any thought to the possibility of dating anyone ever again after having lost their spouses of 60+ years.

Then they met in the trash room on their floor and chatted a little. A couple of months later, they started dating. Five years later, Irene Stange remarks, “I’m so grateful for the trash room!!”

Bob recalled, “I felt like I wanted to connect with someone who wasn’t a guy. I saw Irene around, and she seemed to have more life than other people. She acted full of life. I was nervous thinking about asking her out, and I was afraid she’d say ‘no.’ Then things would be awkward, with us living right down the hall from each other.” He went ahead and chanced it.

Irene said she accepted the date and then became “a nervous wreck. I couldn’t sleep, I couldn’t eat. I’d been married 64 years. I called my daughters and asked them what I should do, what I should wear, and if I should change my mind.”

Their first date was at the Morton Arboretum; they’ve been together ever since. “We make a point of seeing each other every day. We participate in a lot of outings and programs together,” said Irene. “We both try hard to keep the relationship going. When you work hard at something this important, it makes it even better.”

“People enjoy life and live longer when they have someone to be with and talk to,” Bob said. “We laugh a lot, and that’s good for the soul.”

Irene is 90, and Bob is 93, but they look decades younger. They feel like this important relationship, as well as the many programs at Oak Trace that promote fitness, lifelong learning and more, keep them young.

Describing each other, Irene said, “He’s handsome and organized. Very organized. He’s an old-world gentleman. He holds the door open for me and takes my arm; he’s very caring, quick-witted and funny.”

“She’s kinda cute,” Bob quipped. “She is always positive and always willing to help out, and if something isn’t going right, she makes it right. She gets along well with everyone.”

The couple enjoys living at Oak Trace senior living community.

“I love it here. It’s stress-free, and we don’t have to cook or worry about anything. It’s very easy and very nice. I’m very happy here. This is where I belong,” said Irene.

“I like it better and better all the time,” said Bob.

“When I moved here, I felt like I became the person I was meant to be. And then meeting Bob made it even better. I’m surprised to realize that this is the best time of my life,” said Irene.

Oak Trace Senior Living

Oak Trace senior living community in Downers Grove is set on more than 40 acres of landscaped grounds featuring gardens, walking paths, ponds and abundant green space. Oak Trace has private independent living apartments, as well as assisted living, memory care, skilled care and rehabilitation. The Life Care Community offers guaranteed lifelong care with predictable costs. Oak Trace is owned by LifeSpace, a not-for-profit organization with more than 45 years of experience in senior living. To learn more about Oak Trace, visit

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