MILFORD, New Hampshire (STPNS) -- At first, he liked that she was so tiny and of course he was smitten by her smile. She liked his beard.

Last spring they started walking together and after several thousand steps, Violet Blake realized Tedo Rocca was as gentle and sincere as he seemed. Tedo admired Violet?s sense of humor and her strength.

By autumn they knew they wanted to be together all the time and they didn?t think that was going to change, so they decided to get married.

Never mind that Violet is 72 and Tedo is 79.



?It?s the right thing to do,? says Tedo.

Typical Tedo, said Caroline Crooker, owner of the Hair Cottage in Wilton.

Crooker is Violet?s hairdresser and Tedo?s long-ago employee at Lyndeborough?s Woodmont Orchards. She knew the couple had gotten engaged and so she answered The Cabinet?s ad seeking an unusual Valentine?s Day story.

For years, Tedo and Violet lived separate lives in neighboring towns.

Violet had raised two sons in Milford before moving to the West Coast for 10 years. Seven years ago she retired, and moved back to her beloved New Hampshire. She is active in the Wilton Second Congregational Church and a member of the church?s Epiphany Dance Troupe.

She was content and so was Tedo.

Though he had lost his wife three years ago, Tedo?s life was grounded by his eight children, most of whom live nearby. He attends the United Church of Lyndeborough, sings bass with the Souhegan Valley Chorus and tends a large vegetable garden in Lyndeborough where he has lived since 1955. A 50-year stint as foreman at Woodmont Orchards left him with strong ties to the community.

Tedo?s reputation as a classic New England gentleman, as Crooker puts it, started to dawn on Violet after she decided to marry him, she said.

?People would come up to me and tell me all these wonderful things about him,? she said, ?I was wondering, ?Can I live up to this???

But if it weren?t for Violet?s slightly ?rebellious? nature, the two agree, the relationship never would have happened. It was she who called Tedo, after friends suggested they meet because they both love long walks.

?I said something like, ?Would you like to go for a walk sometime,?? she recalled. But Tedo was reluctant, and didn?t call back.

Didn?t matter. Violet was determined to find a walking partner, and thought she could help Tedo overcome his shyness.

?I had to hit on him again,? she said.

The fact that they both kept boxes at the Wilton Post Office made it easier to ask a second time. She did, but Tedo was still cold.

When Violet asked a third time though, he finally relented.

After that first walk, Violet says, she never had to call again.

?That took care of it,? Tedo agreed.

They went to an old orchard Tedo had once tended near Baldwin?s Hill in Wilton. He was ?flabbergasted? when Violet didn?t once complain when they ran into a patch of brambles.

?I thought it was admirable,? he said.

?I thought it was an adventure,? she said.

After many more walks, up Winn Mountain and Pack Monadnock and places closer to home, a surprise: Love at any age knocks you over.

?Feelings that you had when you were younger, you can still have,? said Violet. ?That was a surprise.?

?She?s special,? said Tedo. ?We mirror each other. Lots of times we have the same thought. We can laugh at silly things.?

After having lived full lives, the couple, who have 20 grandchildren, and 12 great-grandchildren between them, talk of completeness and commitment.

And they are not afraid.

?We?ve both experienced life. We know what to expect,? said Violet.

?We know what?s important,? added Tedo.

The couple is planning an ?old-fashioned informal? wedding with a potluck reception on May 5 at the Wilton Congregational Church, after which Tedo will move into Violet?s Maple Street Victorian. The move will make the commute to his job at Draper?s filling station a pleasant five-minute walk. He will still tend his garden in Lyndeborough, but he has decided to switch to Violet?s church.

?Worshiping in the same church is important,? he said.

The two would like to go camping next summer and perhaps take a trip to California, to visit Violet?s friends and Tedo?s family.

?It will be fulfilling,? Tedo said of their future together.

As for their first Valentine?s Day together, the plan is simple.

?We?ll go on a walk, depending on the weather,? said Violet.