With Valentine’s Day here, local residents share their tales of love

Waiting decades for true love

Frank Buonadonna and Kathy Rohrer

Ask Frank Buonadonna about Kathy Rohrer, and there is a good chance his face will light up. The Mercy Life Broad Street Adult Day Center, 1930 S. Broad St., is where they first met in 2013. When Frank arrived at the Mercy LIFE center one fateful day, there was only one seat left in the dining room — right next to Kathy. The two chatted. There were no awkward pauses.

“I was smitten,” Frank recalls. “I knew she was the one then and there. I’d never met a warmer person.”

But while Kathy felt comfortable with Frank from the start, initially she was only interested in friendship. “That’s how I believe all relationships should start,” she says.

Over the course of three months, their friendship flourished — and Kathy was finally ready to meet Frank outside of the Center. Their first date: dinner at the Pub, a popular steakhouse in Pennsauken, N.J.

“I wasn’t a cheap date,” Kathy says. “He worked at winning my heart.”

Fast forward to present day, there is no doubt that Frank has won Kathy’s heart as the couple is now engaged. They share a home in South Philadelphia along with one other important family member, Max, their yorkie terrier. Neither expected this late life gift. Frank had been divorced for years while Kathy had never married.

“You know that old saying, there’s a lid for every pot?” Franks asks. “Well I found my lid the moment I set eyes on Kathy.”

It started with a ‘Friend’ request

This is the story of me and my fiance, Neil Mininger.

Neil Mininiger, Stacey McIntosh and family

Neil and I met in freshman year of high school. We were friendly, but hung out with two TOTALLY different groups of friends. I always thought he was cute, in a quiet, “adorkable” kind of way. I ended up changing schools after sophomore year, and we lost touch. In 2010, after 12 years with no contact, I was on Facebook one day, and a friend suggestion popped up. It was Neil. I sent him a friend request, and we started messaging each other. By this time, I had two kids, and was going through a bad period. After talking for a couple of months, he asked me out, admitting that he had a crush on me back in school. I was surprised, and, being a single mom, a little hesitant. But I agreed, thinking that, if nothing else, it would be a bit of fun, which I desperately needed.

The night we had set up to go out, he shows up at my house, and to my surprise, he has four friends with him. Now I’m like “OK, maybe this ISN’T a date, after all.” We give each other a hug, and he suggests we go to Mako’s on 4th and South. So, off we ALL go. We get to Mako’s and have a beer. I’m talking to Neil and his friends, and everything is going well. He and I start playing pool, and I was feeling a ton of chemistry between us, so I decide to test the waters.

I said to him, “Let’s make a bet.”

He looks at me and asks, “Well, what do you want to bet?”

“OK, if I win you have to …” Then I lean in and kiss him. Well, that was the kiss that made the world stop. He told me later that was the most amazing kiss he had ever experienced, and personally, I was breathless afterward. So we go about our game, and shortly after, kind of ditch his friends and go to the Shamrock on 2nd and Reed where we spend the night talking and dancing (even though there’s no dance floor. We just picked out a spot in the bar and made it our own dance floor.).

From that night on, we were practically inseparable.

Being a single mom, it can be difficult to start a new relationship, especially when the other person doesn’t have kids, but Neil was a natural with my two. The first time he met them, I had him meet us at the playground, and I introduced him as my friend. My son, who is normally shy around new people, took to Neil right away, and my daughter adored him from the start. It was a great day, and since my son and Neil have the same coloring, people assumed we were a family. Watching him play with my kids, I fell in love. I, being a mother first and foremost, knew that I couldn’t just bring any man into my children’s lives, but with Neil, it just felt right. My kids fathers weren’t involved with them, but that didn’t mean I could just show up with some guy and say, “Here’s your new daddy.” But ultimately, that’s what Neil became.

The most romantic night we ever had was my 30th birthday. He took me to South Street, and we went to a new (now closed) Japanese restaurant, 5 n 2 Tokyo. They were getting ready to close for the night, but Neil convinced them to stay open. We had the restaurant all to ourselves, and he, knowing they were BYOB, brought a bottle of my favorite wine with us (I had been wondering why he had a backpack). We had a romantic dinner, with the staff fawning over us. When we left, he took me to the fountain on Headhouse Square, where we drank the rest of the bottle of wine (yes, he even brought wine glasses with us, hence the backpack again), while watching the fountain light up and people watching, which is one of my favorite things in the world to do. I had never before had someone tailor a date just for me the way Neil did that night. He doesn’t even drink wine, normally.

After eight years together, I think what makes us stand out as a couple is that, having been through the worst points of our lives together (among other things, we lost our mothers in the same week, his from lupus and mine from end stage lung cancer), and having so many obstacles in our path, we have managed to stick together and support each other. He is the Yin to my Yang. He’s quiet, calm and centered, while I’m loud, gregarious and all over the map. I know, when it feels like the world is crashing in, that I can turn to him, and after one hug, everything feels right again.

If anyone can learn something from our love, I feel the lessons would be, as long as you stick together, nothing can tear you apart. That, and NEVER fight about money. Money will come and go, but once you start fighting about it, one thing that is SURE to go is your relationship.

-Stacey McIntosh

Love at first sight

My late husband Stanley Joseph Endres and I met on Oct. 14, 1971, at the Grog Shop in Penn Center, and it was love at first sight. I gave him my phone number and he took me on our first date to a movie, which I was too distracted to recall.

Gloria, Stanley and Claire Endres

We were engaged on Christmas Eve of that year. I had found the love of my life, and we wasted no time planning our future.

We bought our house in South Philly in March of 1972 and set our date for Aug. 12. We were married at Annunciation Church, witnessed by my parents, my twin brother, and his family.

We drove to Cape Cod for our honeymoon in a yellow VW fastback. Twenty-five years later, we returned to Massachusetts by air for our silver anniversary.

We were blessed with a wonderful daughter, Claire, who is now Mrs. Steven Wildman. Stanley left us in 2010, but we know his love remains. Some things never die.

-Gloria C. Endres

Feeling an extra special connection

My love story is quite different than the “normal” love story. People, let me tell you my story. I was married to my Neumann sweetheart for more than 35 years. My world came to an end when he passed away several years ago. He left this world way too soon, and I became a gal who never went out and sat at home at night in the dark.

Joe Caruso and Midge Enrico-Caruso

Many years later, a few friends talked me into going to an oldies night at Galdo’s, 1933 W. Moyamensing Ave. A man asked me if I wanted a drink. I said “No thank you.”

“Did I want to dance, again,” he asked?

“No thank you, I am a widow,” I said.

My friends kicked my ankle and said “give it up,” he seemed like a nice guy. “Not interested,” I replied.

These same friends and I had tickets for the Kimmel Center for the Jerry Blavat show. Would you believe that same man was there, in the same row, seat next to mine? As time went on, I went out to dinner, and we laughed at our names, Midge Enrico and Joe Caruso. What are the chances an Enrico would meet a Caruso? We married, and this wonderful man, who was single, never married, told me he found the gal of his dreams — in our old age. We feel we were blessed, God put us together, and for a good reason. You see, it’s not all about home beautiful, going on trips, having beautiful jewelry, constantly getting flowers and exquisite dinners. It’s all about the real stuff. True unselfish love.

Joe took ill a couple of years ago, and I have suffered a brain aneurysm, two strokes and am battling cancer. It’s all OK because we have one another, and our love and our faith will get us through all of this. Everyone should have a love story but I feel ours is extra special.

-Midge Enrico-Caruso