Here’s an article titled “Finding Love in a  Widow’s Jungle” that originally appeared in the Vancouver Sun and Victoria Times Colonist back in 2004. I just recently touched base with Sheila and she and Merv’s relationship is still going strong, She’s 82 now it feels great to know that I was part of making the past 11 years of her life happy and fulfilling.

In Arizona, seated in her comfortable living room at her winter residence, Sheila is on the phone to a radio station fielding questions about her two extremely happy marriages. The stylish and beautiful 71 year old is currently experiencing her second long term relationship set up with the help of a matchmaking service.” I was on a honeymoon for 11 years” she tells her hometown radio station’s host on his morning show on Valentine’s Day “he was the best thing that ever happened to me”.

Sadly the honeymoon ended with her second husband’s death due to cancer.

Rather than wasting precious time, Sheila went back to what had worked so wonderfully in the past -she hired a matchmaking service.  When first widowed, Sheila went the usual route entertaining perspective suitors from her church group and tennis club.  “When I returned to the dating scene I felt like I was in some sort of widow’s jungle. It wasn’t that I had a shortage of dates; it’s just that I realized that I couldn’t pick the right man; I kept falling for the wrong ones. I had always been a professional woman, so I thought I would hire a professional and let them do the job for me”.

In 2001 Jane Carstens had just moved to Vancouver to open the West Coast branch of a professional matchmaking service. From her office in downtown Vancouver Jane was there to answer Sheila’s phone call; they arranged a meeting in Sheila’s home. “I handle the entire west coast, and I’m on the road a lot through out the lower mainland, the interior, and I usually spend a least one day every week interviewing clients in Victoria and Vancouver Island.

“What makes me so unique is that I’ve meet all of my members in the comfort and privacy of their own homes. When I go to someone’s home I really get a sense of who they are.” says Carstens,  “They feel more relaxed and open in familiar surroundings. Together we go over a detailed questionnaire, I get a clear picture of my client, their lifestyle, and what they are looking for in a partner. I used all this information when I matched Sheila.”

Sheila was impressed with Jane’s no nonsense business like approach agreed to work with her. Jane went back to her Vancouver office, and, armed with the Sheila’s detailed bio she searched her client base and came up with three prospective matches.  Sheila met the first two gentlemen and although they had much in common, there wasn’t the magic Sheila was searching for. “I can qualify a lot, and match similar lifestyles and interests,” says Jane “but chemistry is something that either happens or it doesn’t”.

Chemistry hit on the third date. Sheila: “ The most important part of Merv and my first meeting is that we found out we could communicate on exactly the same level. We took it slow, but after the second or third week we knew we were on to something.”

That first date was back in August of 2002. Merv and Sheila exchanged vows at a wedding blessing at their church in front of a happy gathering of friends and family March 16 2004.

“I am very keen on this approach,” says Sheila in response to Phil’s final question of his radio program, “I highly recommend using the services of a matchmaker, it has worked beautifully for me in the past, has made me very, very happy and I have advised many single friends to go that route.”

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