Their relationship began 10 years ago as the only singles in the Sacred Heart Catholic Church choir. It heated up fast after Joseph planted a surprise kiss on Lorraine in the church parking lot after Bible study.
On Thursday, the Drutowskis were wed in their Bradenton home, a dying wish from Joseph to have their union consecrated by a member of the clergy. Legally, Joseph and Lorraine Drutowski were married at the courthouse in 2011. But Joseph, a Tidewell Hospice patient, recently asked Lorraine to marry him again.
Despite his advanced illness, Joseph repeated his vows with a firm voice while grasping Lorraine’s hand. Lorraine’s son, Michael, and his wife, Mei, were visiting from Tennessee and witnessed the ceremony as did the Drutowskis’ dog, Piesek (Polish for “little dog”). Social worker Mary Shallcross, MSSW, LCSW, and chaplain Katie Lee, MDiv, represented Tidewell, and the Tidewell Wishes Fund, which helps covers the cost of celebratory events, contributed a cake and other refreshments.
The 88-year-old Joseph Drutowski, a former tennis professional from Milwaukee who taught with Nick Bollettieri at what later became IMG Academy, was widowed in 2005 after 52 years of marriage. The former Lorraine Trudel, 80, lost her husband in 2002 after 47 years.
Lorraine said that before they started dating Joseph picked on her during choir practice “like a 12-year-old boy.”
The pair relished their second chance at love. Romantics from the beginning, they even conducted a wedding ceremony for themselves during a trip to Paris. Fittingly, that impromptu wedding happened at Sacre Coure Basilica, also known as Sacred Heart Basilica.