Love for the ages at Bensonhurst nursing home

August 5, 2012 By Paula Katinas Brooklyn Daily Eagle
Frances Buttel and Richard Nygaard

Sometimes, it takes a little longer for Cupid’s arrow to hit its target.

Frances Buttel and Richard Nygaard proved that love can be found at any age. The happy couple, who are both residents of the Bensonhurst Center at 84th Street (also known as Holy Family Home), a nursing home at 1740 84th St., were married in the center’s chapel in front of scores of family members, friends, fellow residents and nursing home staff members on Tuesday.

Buttel, 59, and Nygaard, 74, were married in a traditional Catholic mass officiated by the Rev. Guy Sbordone, pastor of Saint Frances of Cabrini Church in Bensonhurst.

“Kiss your bride!” Fr. Sbordone instructed the wheelchair-bound groom at the end of the mass. After Nygaard obeyed, the priest repeated his instruction.

“Kiss her again!” he said with a big grin.

Again, Nygaard kissed his bride. It’s the first marriage for both bride and groom, according to a friend of the happy couple.

“I wanted to look beautiful on my wedding day, and I do!” Buttel said just before the start of the ceremony.

Shlomo Z. Levi, the home’s administrator, walked her down the aisle.

The couple met while undergoing physical rehabilitation at the center, according to Levi.

“They met during the rehab period and they went on to dine together often at meals. Over their years of dining together they became close friends and the rest is history!” Levi said.

Buttel has been living at the nursing home for six years. Her groom is a five-year resident.

“It is certainly a day of dreams,” Fr. Sbordone said in his homily. “Frances and Richard are the stars of the show. We pray that their love continues to grow.”

The administrators and staff of the nursing home went all-out to make sure the wedding day was a memorable one for the newlyweds. Following the mass, a reception took place in the dining room. In addition, the corridors leading from the chapel to the dining room were lined with tables filled with trays of hors d’oeuvres and glasses filled with cocktails.

The couple has endured tough times on the way to their joyous day.

“They both came to our facility for rehabilitation after being sick and hospitalized. However, due to chronic illnesses (Frances) and physical disability (Richard) needed to continue as long-term residents under the care of our nursing staff,” Levi wrote in an e-mail to a reporter.

The Bensonhurst Center at 84th Street offers both short-term rehabilitation and longer nursing home care. The facility currently has 150 long-term residents.

Buttel and Nygaard will now share a room at the nursing home, according to Charles-Edouard Gros, president of Center Management Group, a Flushing-based company which owns the Bensonhurst Center at 84th Street.

“We allow married couples to stay together, of course,” he said.