The Vancouver club now known as Single Seniors, which is celebrating its 30th anniversary this year, originally served a younger crowd.
“I gave it the name 42-52, which wasn’t smart,” said George Held, one of the group’s three founders.
Held had been married for 24 years when his wife died in 1988. He joined his church’s singles group, but participants ranged in age from 18 to 80.
“That’s such a big spread. An 18-year-old is not going to want to do what an 80-year-old wants to do,” Held said.
He and his pals Jack Gardner and Kathy Walsh decided to started a new group.
If you go
What: Single Seniors 30th anniversary potluck
When: 1 p.m. April 6
Where: St. Luke’s - San Lucas Episcopal Church, 426 E. Fourth Plain Blvd., Vancouver
Cost: $1 for members; $3 for nonmembers; $24 for annual Senior Singles membership
Information: Tana Hart at 360-892-8944
They took out classified ads in The Columbian’s “Meeting Place” section: “Interested in starting a 42-52 singles only group. Activities!”
“All we wanted to do was get together, have some fun, watch some movies, go to the beach,” Held said.
All three found new mates and moved on, but the club is still going strong. As members aged, they changed the club’s name to 42-Plus Singles. Soon that didn’t apply either.
“We’re not 42-plus anymore, more like 62-plus,” said Tana Hart, 78. She joined when she was 48, shortly after the club launched in March 1993 and two years after her husband died.
In 2015, the club changed its name yet again, this time to Single Seniors and that has stuck.
According to the club’s bylaws, members must be single, divorced or widowed, although those whose spouses are in nursing homes are also allowed in, Hart said. You can stay in the club if you pair up with another member, she said.
Hart said the club has 74 members. That’s down from 20 years ago, when the club’s 139 members were more balanced between men and women. Now there’s more women.
“I think that women are more willing to belong to a club like this,” member Ted Hook said. “Plus, unfortunately, we men die earlier.”
Hart said indeed some members have died or moved away. (Her boyfriend of 20 years, whom she met in the club, relocated to Texas.)
The pandemic has also affected the club. It paused activities between March of 2020 to August 2021.
“During COVID, I called everyone on our phone list to see how they were doing, just a call to say, ‘Hey, we still care about you,’ ” Hart said. “That helped to encourage people to come back.”
She said the club has attracted newcomers recently.
“Right now, were picking up people like crazy,” Hart said. “A lot of people have moved here since the pandemic.”
The club’s monthly calendar — distributed exclusively on paper, either mailed out or handed to members at the monthly potluck — lists activities on almost every day of the month. Twenty years ago, those activities included bike rides and hikes. These days, they tend toward meals at local restaurants and card games at the Vancouver Mall food court. Members just appreciate the chance to get together.
“I don’t have to eat alone,” Ruth Fisher said. “I don’t have to go somewhere by myself.”
The club focuses on hanging out, not hooking up.
“We try not to be too much of a meat market,” Hook joked. “Some people get together in a relationship.”
In fact, he’s dating a fellow member, Eva Rosenbaum.
“It’s more about companionship,” Rosenbaum said.
Other members echoed that sentiment.
Wieslaw “Wes” Jedrzejewski said he joined the club in 2019 to find friends.
“I get lonely. My wife has been gone now for six years,” said Jedrzejewski, who moved here from Poland in 1981. “I live by myself. I don’t have any family in this country. This club is my family.”