Cabin raids and fireside singalongs may be one fun way to spend the summer. For Allen and Rita Bell, summertime memories were the ambient sounds of crackling pins in Canton, Ohio. The bowling alley housed the magic ingredients for their lifetime of striking fun together.
The year was 1977. Fresh out of college, Allen the “Georgia Gentleman” was busy managing bowling lanes and helping oversee the 1st annual Dick Ritger Bowling camp
In Queens, New York, Rita had recently lost a high school friend to the infamous ‘Son of Sam’. For her safety, her parents instructed she go stay in Ohio with family until the killer was found. And, at seventeen years young, she hopped on a plane from New York to Ohio to attend bowling camp.
“It was the summer before my senior year of high school. When I first met Allen, it felt like we knew each other forever. He wowed me and treated me like a princess,” Rita recalled.
“Rita was in the very first class, the first week of summer camp. We knew right away that we needed another instructor and after seeing Rita’s talent, we hoped she would stay through all the classes to instruct the remainder of the summer,” said Allen.
And that she did. Allen’s wish came true.
Following their summer fun, Allen and Rita continued writing and began dating long distance. On her 18th birthday, Allen drove to New York to surprise Rita with a star sapphire necklace and ring – nineteen diamonds to be exact.
“I remember when he came out with the ring box. I thought he was going to propose. I was only a senior in high school!” Rita said, “Which is partly why we broke up.”
Lives and careers took them in different directions. And, some thirty years later, the two bowling buddies were reunited and happily married in June 2014.
“It’s remarkable Allen and I found one another again,” Rita exclaimed. “He was the only one to ever call me sweetheart.”
Making up for lost time, the couple cherish every waking moment living and working together as Live-In Managers at RLC’s Daniel Pointe Retirement Community on Daniel Island, South Carolina.
“Working for RLC is incredible because we have the culture of taking care of our residents. We feel comfortable knowing we have the confidence and capability to do what’s best. We believe the residents do too – this is home; the truest sense of community,” the couple concurred.
“As we sit down to have lunch, we realize we’re in the presence of amazing people – the first female rocket scientist in America, or a gentleman’s great-grandfather who signed the Declaration of Independence,” said Rita with a proud smile.
“You learn, feel, and hear things from others that most never experience in a lifetime. We get to daily,” added Allen. “Every day is different. It’s the little things that make working here together simply amazing.”
In the five years they’ve been married, the couple has learned respecting each other (beyond husband and wife) makes an impact on their RLC teammates and residents alike.
“Keeping them all happy and healthy is rewarding to us,” Rita added. Working together as a couple allows RLC communities to operate in a familial environment. Couples who not only work together, but also live where they work are special people. It takes heart, humility and a lot of fun!
Rita and Allen both have two children the same age, born just days apart. It’s wonderful they lived separate but parallel lives. With the couple having quoted lines from their favorite movie, The Notebook, for their vows, it’s incredibly fitting they now call Daniel Island home, where Boon Plantation – the site where Nicholas Spark’s The Notebook – was filmed in nearby Mt. Pleasant.
“We love Daniel Island and our new home here,” the couple said, “Its right up our alley!”