It was love at first dance


Will and Donna Major share a dance Tuesday, Feb. 14, 2017, during Prairie Living’s Valentine’s Day Dance at Prairie Living at Chautauqua in Carbondale. The couple met and married in the assisted living community and celebrate their third anniversary in October. “We’re one of the few people left who can still dance,” Donna said. “So we always dance. As long as we can, we do.” (Morgan Timms | @Morgan_Timms)

By Alex Howell

When Will Major, 72, was discharged from Barnes-Jewish hospital, he said he was charged $6 for a pillowcase he defaced.

Will still has the pillowcase on which he drew the face and name of his wife of two years, Donna Major, 70, when he was away from her at the hospital.

The couple of two years lives at Prairie Living at Chautauqua, an assisted living community in Carbondale where they were married in October 2014.


A few years ago, Will, a retired SIU professor, and Donna, a retired nurse, met at the community where they said they instantly knew they were meant to be together, but it was dancing that first brought them together.

“I was sitting there with my legs crossed and my skirt was a little [high],” Donna said. “He’s lounging there on the couch and I look over and I think ‘he just looks so sad.’

So she walked over and asked him to dance.

Morgan Timms
Will and Donna Major hold hands Monday, Feb. 13, 2017, in their living room at Prairie Living at Chautauqua. (Morgan Timms | @Morgan_Timms)

“He put his arm around me and I said ‘you don’t know how good that feels, to feel someone comfort me and touch me and you know, hold me again,’” she recalled telling Will.

“So I hugged her tighter, and that was about it,” Will said. “That was the first time we danced.”

Donna had only been at the assisted living home for a short time at this point.

Not too long after, Will proposed.


Morgan Timms
Will and Donna Major, a retired SIU professor and hospice worker respectively, hold hands Monday, Feb. 13, 2017, in their living room at Prairie Living at Chautauqua. The pair met and married in the assisted living community and have been together for two years. (Morgan Timms | @Morgan_Timms)

“He gets down on one knee in the middle of the dining room with the room full, and asked me to marry him,” Donna said. “I said yes. There was no question in my mind.”

About 100 people watched the wedding and attended a reception afterward. The Majors spent their honeymoon at a bed and breakfast in Anna.

But Donna said the two weren’t looking for love when they met.

The couple’s first date was at an anniversary celebration to honor Will’s friend, who was one of the first graduates of Attucks School. He asked Donna if she would go with him, and she did.

Morgan Timms
Will and Donna Major laugh together as they recall memories shared in the assisted living community Monday, Feb. 13, 2017, in their living room at Prairie Living at Chautauqua. (Morgan Timms | @Morgan_Timms)

Now, they enjoy taking naps together, watching TV, and playing a game called “Hay Day” on their tablets.

Will and Donna say that they didn’t expect to ever fall in love with anyone at their age, but they are glad that they did.

“I was alone for 15 years after my husband died and I never thought I’d marry again,” Donna said in an earlier Daily Egyptian interview. “But here we are.”

Morgan Timms contributed to this report.

Staff writer Alex Howell can be reached at 618-536-3326, [email protected] or on Twitter @ahowellde.

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