For Two Octogenarians, the ‘Endgame’ Was Just the Beginning

On their first date last December, Joan Marie Klein made a confession to Jack William Pinto: She was not 79-years-old, as she had said, but 87.

“I knew nobody’s going to call a woman who says she’s 87,” Ms. Klein said. “And actually, I confirmed that with Jack.”

Then 88, Mr. Pinto — who had driven two-and-a-half hours from his home in Hanover, Pa., to meet Ms. Klein for dinner near hers in Philadelphia — was unfazed by the revelation. Ms. Klein even joked that if he preferred younger women, she still fit the bill.

Her age aside, frankness had been a hallmark of their interactions since they became acquainted the month before on SilverSingles, a dating site for older adults. Ahead of their get-together, they had exchanged several messages about a variety of topics, including what they were like in college and the happiest day of each’s life.

After their meal, Ms. Klein asked if Mr. Pinto wanted to see her recently renovated apartment. “Part of my reason was I really wanted him to see the apartment, but the other half was that I couldn’t figure out how a girl was going to get kissed on a Philadelphia street in front of a doorman,” she said.

Fifteen minutes after they arrived at her place, Mr. Pinto asked Ms. Klein a pointed question: “So, what is your endgame?”

His first wife, to whom he was married for more than 60 years, had died more than two years earlier. “I wanted to get married again,” Mr. Pinto said. “I like being married.” His question was a way to see if Ms. Klein was on the same trajectory.

Her answer suggested they were not, at least initially. “I just want somebody to go to the movies with, out to dinner on a Saturday night, maybe a jazz club,” she recalled telling him.

Ms. Klein, who had been married twice before, had also lost a spouse: her second husband had died 10 years earlier. Her life was full, she said, replete with family, travel and accomplishments. For decades, Ms. Klein managed a preschool, Yellow Duck Preparatory School, and an affiliate summer camp, Country Roads Day Camp, in Manalapan, N.J., both of which she founded.

Despite their mismatched expectations, they parted amicably. The following day, Mr. Pinto, who at 57 retired from a career in marketing, sent Ms. Klein a message on SilverSingles. It included his personal email and ended with the line: “If you ever need anything, call me.” Ms. Klein said she read the note as “a kiss-off letter.”

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The pair had reached a bit of an impasse. As Mr. Pinto explained, “I told her: ‘I don’t really want a companion. A companion is someone you call up and say, ‘I want to go someplace, would you mind my dog?’ Or worse: ‘Could you come over and take care of the dog because I’ve got a date tonight.’”

They decided to take the next few months to continue getting to know each other. Ms. Klein, who had planned a trip to Paris in April, recalled thinking that “if all went well, perhaps he would come with me.”

The two began to drive back and forth between their homes, staying for long weekends. “The truth was we were in love after the first month,” Ms. Klein said. “By month two and three, we were just looking to find the crazy parts of each other. We didn’t.”

Added Mr. Pinto, “The time that we did spend together was just so comfortable.”

Both have large families — Ms. Klein has six children and 18 grandchildren; Mr. Pinto has three children and six grandchildren — who welcomed their developing relationship. Before meeting his family for the first time, Ms. Klein was briefly overcome with anxiety. But Mr. Pinto quickly assuaged it. “It’s not a test,” he told her. “Just be my Joan.”

When Ms. Klein left for Paris in April, Mr. Pinto, now 89, joined her and later proposed on a bridge in the city. “When you’re 89 years old, you’re not going to take five years to decide you’re going to marry somebody,” he said.

On July 2, they were married at the Rittenhouse Grill, a steakhouse with a piano bar, in Philadelphia. The Rev. Julian Hall, a retired United Church of Christ minister, officiated.

The newlyweds, who plan to live between their homes in Philadelphia and Hanover, presented each other with engraved wedding rings at the ceremony. Ms. Klein’s band reads: “Be My Joan.” Inscribed on Mr. Pinto’s ring: “The End Game.”