According to Harry Nilsson, one is the loneliest number.
But loneliness can be alleviated, or even conquered, when you get about 50 of those individual ones together.
On Sunday, The Utah Sunday Singles Social Group, with most members wearing green necklaces that bore the message “Kiss Me, I’m Irish,” celebrated its 40th anniversary of fellowship among Utahns over the age of 50 who refuse to be alone.
The only thing done individually were separate checks.
About 45 of the group’s 57 members gathered at Murray’s Mimi’s Café to reflect on the 1973 founding of the inclusive club, dine on citrus salmon or grilled meatloaf, and eat birthday cake. If you think the menu should have included corned beef and cabbage in honor of St. Patrick’s Day, be assured that is exactly what many members of the group ate together the night before at American Legion Holladay Post 71.
Denis Siu, 72, of Sandy, was dressed in a bright green shirt and said why he joined the group about a half-decade ago. “[This] is what we’re looking for,” he said. “Friends.”
Norma Stauffer, 82, of Murray, was one of three original members of the group that first got together when several found the support group Parents Without Partners “too wild,”she joked.
Now, 40 years later, with the help of a bimonthly newsletter, groups gather to play bingo, dance at South Salt Lake’s American Legion Post 112, lunch at restaurants ranging from Sizzler to Chuck-A-Rama, and, most frequently, support the local arts community by going to the Utah Symphony and Murray Symphony. They also take in plays ranging from local theater to national touring productions.
And if you are a member and want to go to the Clark Planetarium or a Fourth of July festivity, just suggest it and you’ll create a group organized to do exactly that, with other members ready to join you. There are about 10 to 15 events each month that group members can go to, and each can go to as many or as little as they want.
Ilene Dushoff-Roberts, 70, of Midvale, joined the group about a decade ago. She had moved from Philadelphia to Utah and at the time said to herself, “I have no friends here.” Now, she has more than 50.
Most of the members are women, but there is no shortage of men. While one of the club’s many activities is not match-making, several couples over the years have met each other in the group.
One of those couples are Norman Hanneman, 88, and his wife of a quarter-century, Betty Hanneman, 86, both from Taylorsville. They met one another about 35 years ago as singles in the group, and Norman said that his future wife caught his eye though he maintained that he wasn’t in search of a mate.
Betty, who is an honorary member because she is married, said she knew what she wanted when she saw Norman. “I was looking,” she said with a bright smile.
But she was in the minority. People join the group, many said, because while they take pride in being independent, sometimes going to Scandinavian Days in Ephraim is more fun when you’re with friends.
Want some company?
To join the Utah Sunday Singles Social Group, call Lucile Martin at 801-277-7722.