Their love story began nearly 70 years ago when Rita, then a 28-year-old telephone operator, was asked to go to a picnic at Stoney Creek in Maryland with a co-worker. There, she met Robert Chapman, then a 20-year-old- Navy veteran.
As Robert notes, he is “pretty sure that the mutual friend knew we would hit it off.”
After less than a year of dating, they had a small church wedding and a lively reception at a local nightclub. They started a family while living in a row house in Baltimore City.
In the years that followed, they moved to a wonderful home in Parkville, Maryland, an unincorporated area of Baltimore County. There, they raised their two sons, Dennis and Robert, and took great pride tending to their vegetable and flower gardens. Rita continued to work for the telephone company, retiring after 39 years of service. Robert delivered mail for the U.S. Postal Service.
With their love for Ocean City, Maryland, they moved to Montego Bay in Ocean City in 2001, where they continued to enjoy their passion for gardening. They won Best Lawn in Ocean City three years in a row.
As the years went by, Rita developed dementia, and Robert cared for her. But when her dementia became worse, Robert realized he could no longer provide Rita with the care she needed. This past April, Robert and Rita made the decision to move Rita into Treasure Cove Memory Care at the Gull Creek Senior Living community that Gardant manages. The community is located in historic Berlin, Maryland, about ten miles west of Ocean City. The community features senior living and assisted living apartments and Treasure Cove Memory Care for individuals with Alzheimer’s disease and related dementia.
Robert would regularly come and visit Rita. Very quickly, however, he found the drive to and from Ocean City and Berlin was wearing on him and began discussing his options with the staff of Gull Creek.
The discussions led to Robert’s decision to move into the community. He selected an apartment in assisted living because it would enable Rita to move in with him. They could be together again, and she could receive the help and assistance she needed.
Their love story was able to continue. In July, they celebrated their 68th Wedding Anniversary together, having only lived apart from each other for less than two months.