By Joe Smillie
Peninsula Daily News
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Andy Nilles is getting married to his sweetheart Friday. She says it’s his car that attracted her to him.
“I love the way he drives,” Gladys Salley said of her beau. “He drives like he’s 50 years old.”
Nilles is 93. Salley turned 90 in July.
It’s not the world’s most romantic car, a maroon 2007 Chevrolet HHR, but, as Salley said, “You don’t get to pick from too many cars at our age.”
His car made him popular around the Vintage at Sequim, the senior apartment complex in west Sequim, they said.
“She won out,” Nilles said. “Some of the others here in the building are not too happy.”
He said he’s fond of his fiancee’s accent. She’s a native of Monroe, La.
“She’s my southern sweetie,” Nilles said.
He is fond enough to have popped the question.
“He apologized,” Salley said. “He said ‘I can’t kneel down. I might not be able to make it back up.’”
Said Nilles: “It’s getting later. I guess we better be certain about this. But I give it 93 years thought, and I’m certain about this.”
The wedding will be 9:30 a.m. Friday at Cock-a-Doodle Doughnuts in Port Angeles, 105 E. Front St.
Salley fell in love with the place when she first moved to the North Olympic Peninsula about five years ago and had to make repeated trips to the Department of Licensing office to provide the right paperwork for an identification card.
Salley doesn’t drive. Nilles has had his license since he was a boy. He’s getting it enhanced so they can go to Canada.
“We’ve never had a wedding in here before. So this is the first, and I think the sweetest,” said Cock-a-Doodle owner Dana Page.
“They adore the shop, and they’re pretty adorable.”
They will be married by Pastor Mark Weatherford of Eastern Hills Community Church in Carlsborg.
“I feel like I need to counsel them, but what advice to you give somebody that’s 90?” Pastor Weatherford said.
Both live in the Vintage at Sequim, an apartment complex for the seniors in west Sequim and met over Nilles’ car.
They met one day when Salley wasn’t feeling well and it was too early to get a bus.
Salley asked the Vintage staff how she could get to the doctor. They said they would call “Andy.”
“I thought ‘who is Andy,’” she said.
Said Nilles: “I’ve hauled a lot of people to the drug store and the grocery store and the hardware store.”
A retired rancher and wheat farmer from Mansfield, Nilles — who moved to Sequim in 1981 — likes to spend his time helping people.
He mows the quarter-acre lawn of an elderly friend in Port Angeles every two weeks.
He crochets hats for babies and cancer patients.
He makes whole vats of clam chowder and zucchini bread that is the talk of the Vintage.
“Anytime anybody needs anything, they call Andy,” Salley said.
That’s made him popular around the Vintage complex.
After that first trip to the office, they took a walk down to McDonald’s, Salley “taking my walker with me” and Nilles with his cane.
They started making regular trips to McDonalds for breakfast and coffee.
At first, Nilles would drive them, then they started walking — without help.
“After a while, I didn’t touch my walker any more, and he didn’t carry his cane anymore. We just leaned on each other’s hands,” Salley said.
That got the McDonalds’ set talking.
“They would always ask us how long we’ve been married,” she said. “I think that’s what gave him the idea.”
Nilles said he knew Salley was the one when she helped him get to the hospital when he was ill earlier this year.
“When I was in the hospital, she came down to see me every day. She took the bus,” Nilles said.
“She was the only would come and see me and go to all that trouble. And the rest of them around here wouldn’t even give me a phone call. So I thought she might be the right one.”
Both have been married before.
Salley was married for 52 years to her late husband, Fred, who died in 1996. They had two daughters, one of whom died just before Fred.
She quit working at the age of 82. She did secretarial work in Louisiana.
Nilles was married twice before. His second wife died in 2002. He has three sons and one daughter.
Salley is keeping her name, she said.
“It takes too long. If it took a week to get my ID, how long would it take to change my name?”
It was a ride to Hurricane Ridge that solidified their romance.
Though Nilles is used to being in the driver’s seat, his sister, Mary, drove them to Hurricane Ridge, allowing him to sit in the back seat with Salley.
“And we got to hold hands all the way,” Salley said.
“And then, I just went up and kissed her real good,” Nilles said. “She called me later and . . .”
“I said I hadn’t been kissed like that in a looong time,” Salley finished.
They’re planning to drive to Leavenworth immediately after Friday’s ceremony.
“They want to go Leavenworth, and I think she just wants to be an honest woman before they hit the road together,” granddaughter Jada Jack said.
“So we’ll get them married and everybody will get to have their favorite donut and then we’ll send them down the road,” Jack said.
Sequim-Dungeness Valley Editor Joe Smillie can be reached at 360-681-2390, ext. 5052, or at firstname.lastname@example.org.