After losing her husband to a 15-year battle with cancer, Louise decided to chart a new course. This change in direction would make no provisions for another life partner.
“I was fine living alone and didn’t want to consider marriage again,” she said. “I leapt into getting rid of our house, changed jobs, sold two cars, sold the boat.”
While much of her former life was left behind, an old anemometer — a device used to measure wind speed — managed to make the trip to Louise’s new Marblehead residence. But its wires would ultimately need replacing.
The anemometer had been purchased by Louise’s late husband 10 years earlier from Boston retailer Robert E. White Instruments.
“Gorgeous, old-fashioned, full of magnificent mahogany and brass instruments,” Louise said, years later still vividly recounting the store’s setting.
Its owner also left an indelible impression.
“He was extremely knowledgeable, yet he never tried to sell us,” she said of Ridge, the man at the helm of Robert E. White Instruments that day in 2006.
In the years that followed, Ridge too was widowed, losing his wife of 42 years to cancer in 2015. The family business — hit hard by the recession — would end its remarkable run after nearly 40 years in business.
After losing his wife, Ridge learned that he could live alone.
“But I also learned that I didn’t want to,” he said.
In October 2016, as Louise dined in Marblehead with her close confidante Ann, they had a photograph taken. Ann then shared this photo with a friend.
By coincidence, this friend, Rebecca, had been the physical therapist for Ridge’s late wife. Upon learning that Louise was widowed, Rebecca began hatching a plan for Ridge and Louise to meet.
While Ann knew Louise wasn’t interested in meeting anyone, she still passed along Ridge’s information, which included “former owner of Robert E. White Instruments.”
“My first thought was ‘wires!’ So I asked Ann for his email,” Louise recalled.
Obtaining the necessary wires for the anemometer proved to be too difficult, but the email exchange between Louise and Ridge continued.
“I became fascinated,” Louise admitted.
During the course of their correspondence, Louise made mention of a broken Chelsea barometer. Ridge suggested coming to take a look at it, since he’d be on the North Shore for business.
“I had no business on the North Shore. I lied. I just needed to meet this woman,” he confessed.
That chilly, sunny fall day in Marblehead marked the beginning of a brand new connection, and the realization that the two had numerous commonalities — dating back to their parents.
“In the kitchen is a barograph my father bought from Ridge’s father,” noted Louise.
Copies of “Eldridge Tide and Pilot Book” — which Ridge’s family had published for more than 150 years — were familiar to Louise from her childhood, as her parents had purchased one each year before cruising.
Married by Rebecca and Ann, this June Louise and Ridge will celebrate their fifth wedding anniversary.
“Our parents must have orchestrated this,” Louise said with a smile.