By Tamas Mondovics

It may have taken Ralph Wozniak a little more than six-and-a-half decades to get around to doing something he always wanted, but things got in the way.

At the age of 89, after being married to his high school sweetheart LaVerne for 66 years, Ralph finally got his chance to ask her to the prom, which he said was “well worth the wait.”

“We had a wonderful time,” Ralph said as he talked about this year’s Hillsborough County Aging Services Senior Prom held last month at the Egypt Shriners Activity Building in Tampa.

“We were so serious about the prom, since this was the first time in our life,” Ralph said. “I wore my tux and LaVerne a gold gown. She was dressed so beautifully, with matching nails.”

While the event saw nearly 300 in attendance, all of whom enjoyed some dancing, great food and fellowship, Ralph was granted another “first” in his life after being selected as the prom king.

“That was a great plus,” he said, adding “I couldn’t believe they picked me. I almost fell off my chair.”

In 1944 Ralph enlisted in the Marine Corps, then was shipped overseas during World War II, followed by his time in the Korean War.

“It was war time and I just missed out,” he said.

What he did not miss out on was the first dance with LaVerne as his wife on April 23, 1949.

Ralph hoped his attendance at the prom would encourage area seniors to take advantage of all that local senior centers under the supervision of the Hillsborough County Department of Aging Services offers to residents.

Ralph and his wife are members of the Gibsonton Senior Center, promoting healthy living through an energetic lifestyle and participation in events, programs and activities at the center.

“Seniors need to be active,” LaVerne said, while Ralph added, “We not only believe that, but really act on it and want to be a part of all that the center offers.”

“We are grateful to have had the opportunity to attend the senior prom,” Ralph said. “It gave us the chance we didn’t get all those years ago.” Visit

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