Bonding Over Faith and Football

Janice Matamoros and Rayburn Ewers, who goes by Otto, each prayed a lot before moving to the Belmont Village Senior Living community in Lakeway, Texas, in 2019. Though both of their prayers were answered, hers came with a bit of a twist.

When she left her home in McKinney, Texas, for the retirement community, Ms. Matamoros, 89, had prayed for a woman friend who shared her interest in the Bible. “I prayed so hard that God would send a lady into Belmont to be my prayer partner,” she said.

Mr. Ewers, 82, who moved there from Kingsville, Texas, also wanted to meet a new female friend. “I was hoping to find a Christian lady who shared my interests,” he said.

Both were widowed: Ms. Matamoros’s husband, Andy Matamoros, died in 2008 after a decade-long struggle with dementia. Mr. Ewers’s wife, Dora Ewers, died in 2018 of natural causes.

Ms. Matamoros’s prayer was the result of a promise she made to herself when Mr. Matamoros died after 31 years of marriage. “I swore I would never look at another man,” said Ms. Matamoros, who has two daughters, Katherine Daniels and Karen Truxillo, six grandchildren and four great-grandchildren.

But Mr. Ewers, a retired petroleum and natural gas engineer who was married to Ms. Ewers for 55 years when she died, had not ruled out a new romantic relationship. After meeting Ms. Matamoros at their community’s weekly Bible study group in January 2020, he wanted to get to know her better.

“I thought she might be able to teach me about the Bible,” said Mr. Ewers, who has two sons, Michael Ewers and Kevin Ewers, a daughter, Brenda Davis, and six grandchildren.

That June, he knocked on the door of her apartment for a chat. Ms. Matamoros, a former hospitality agent for a hotel chain who later became a baker, was surprised to see her new acquaintance at her doorstep.

Particularly wonderful for Mr. Ewers was Ms. Matamoros’s love of football: Implicit in his wish for a partner who shared his interests was an appreciation for his favorite sport. “When you start looking around, you find there’s not too many women who watch football,” he said.

At first they were friends. But within a month, their relationship turned romantic, leading Ms. Matamoros to reconsider her vow to steer clear of men.

“I didn’t get the lady,” she said, referring to the prayer partner she had envisioned. But in getting Mr. Ewers, she learned something. “Love is timeless,” she said. “It can reach out to you at any age.”

When the couple became engaged in November 2021, not all of their children were elated. “Katherine was quite shocked, and very outspoken,” Ms. Matamoros said. Mr. Ewers said “it was about the same way with my family,” adding, “they thought we should wait longer.”

Added Ms. Matamoros, “I was honest with my daughter. I told her, ‘We don’t know how much time we have left. We want to live the time we do have left together.’” In time, both families came around. Ms. Daniels is now “super-supportive,” Ms. Matamoros said.

So is the community where they met and fell in love. On April 2, Ms. Matamoros, wearing a white lace dress, and Mr. Ewers, in a dark suit, were married before 60 vaccinated guests in a poolside ceremony on the Belmont grounds. Brent Graham, the associate pastor of the Lakeway Church and the leader of their Bible study group, officiated.

The attendees included several neighbors and community staff members, along with most of the bride’s and groom’s children, and many of their grandchildren and great-grandchildren.

“He won my heart and now we can be together round the clock,” Ms. Matamoros said. “We’re partners for life.”