(Staff photo by Brett Eppley/beppley@madisoncourier.com)
(Staff photo by Brett Eppley/beppley@madisoncourier.com)
For the first time in a long time, Kenneth Long is looking for a new friend.

He and his wife, Margaret, were married for 60 years. Her unexpected death last month has left a big hole in the family. And while “Marge” can’t be replaced, Long hopes he can find support from someone who might share his loneliness.

Long’s daughter, Connie, was the first to suggest placing a personal ad in the newspaper.

Connie said not all of her five siblings were supportive at first, but they’ve come around to the idea.

“At first, they were kind of like ‘What? It’s too soon,’” she said. “I said, ‘When is it ever going to be?’ ”

At 80, the retired truck driver doesn’t get out of the house much these days – his daughter’s main reason to find him some companionship.

“I know he loved mom, but he’s in his 80s, and if he sits here he’s going to wilt and die.”

And so, on March 8, Long’s ad first appeared in The Madison Courier.

“Man 80 years of age, who lost a wife of 60 years, is looking for a lady of about the same age for memories and conversations only.”

Long, who married Marge just two weeks before going to Korea with the Army, said he still frequents the Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 1969 in Madison like he did before Marge’s death.

Connie said she’s happy to see her father getting out of the house on his own and trying to make new connections, but as he’ll tell you: it’s hard.

On a recent night out with Connie, a woman approached their table and offered to dance with Kenneth, but all he could muster was to tell her that he wasn’t ready.

“It’s hard,” he said.

Over the years, Connie said, their mother’s warm sense of humor made her relationship closer to her children. As their mother dealt with health troubles and finally after her death, the children connected with their father on a deeper level.

“And we don’t want to lose that. If he sits here he’s going to go.”

For now, father and daughter reminisce about the missing piece of their family, but try to focus on the parts of life that are still enjoyable.

Long and his wife had a love of drag racing in their ‘69 Camaro. Country music – especially classics by Dolly Parton and Kenny Rogers – and the TV show “Blue Bloods,” starring Tom Selleck are favorites, too.

Someone to commiserate with over a cheeseburger at the VFW or lunch at Bob Evan’s would be ideal, Long said. Even just to talk about the weather would be a good start – but this won’t be a love connection.

“I’m not looking for anything. I just want someone to talk to,” he said of the woman he hopes to hear from.

“Maybe she’s lonely too.”

To get in touch with Long, call (812) 265-2828.