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Shock set aside for wedding at assisted living facility

Residents of a home for the elderly put aside grief over a shooting, so Al Boose and Vi Rauber can have their day.


© St. Petersburg Times, published February 15, 2001

SPRING HILL -- Paul Fuhrmann took a seat outside the Residence at Timber Pines on Wednesday to watch his friends, Al Boose and Vi Rauber, get married.

Not only was he avoiding thoughts of the shocking murder-suicide that had taken place the previous evening at the Residence, he said, he had just about blotted it from his mind.

"What happened last night I don't even remember," said Fuhrmann, 86. "We're here for this. This is the best thing that could happen to older people, so they don't have to be lonely."

People at the usually tranquil assisted living facility on U.S. 19 were witness to two stories of intense emotion on Valentine's Day and the night before.

One was tragic: Leighton Bradley killed 78-year-old Helen J. Winn, who lived in the independent wing of the facility, because she rejected his advances, according to the Hernando County Sheriff's Office.

Bradley, 77, of Brooksville shot Winn in the lobby after she finished her dinner, and then shot himself. He left a note saying "I would rather die with Helen than live without her."

The other story seemed to inspire everyone at the Residence. And it was the one that held their focus on Wednesday:

Rauber, 94, and Boose, 93, became friends soon after they both moved to the facility in July. They fell in love a few months later, after Rauber invited him to her apartment and he kissed her. They became well-known at the Residence for their hand-in-hand walks and adoration for one another.

Despite the shooting Tuesday, residents agreed the wedding should go on as planned when they met Wednesday morning. Later in the day, they were inclined to focus on the happy scenes such as Rauber, wearing a pink dress and pink roses, walking from the building's doorway toward the groom.

"I wanted to cry," said Marilyn McComb, 75. "She has the face of a pixie. She looked adorable."

Celebrating the marriage "doesn't mean we aren't grieving or we aren't shocked. We are all still very shocked," said Terri Osteen, the executive director at the Residence. "Helen Winn was a special woman to all of us."

She loved to dance, shop and play bridge, Osteen said; at a Halloween party she came dressed as a movie star and was attractive enough to pull it off.

But, Osteen said, "everyone clapped at the meeting and said they were thrilled we were going ahead with the wedding. . . . We're just looking forward to the wedding to take away a little bit of the tragedy."

By noon Wednesday, all traces of the crime scene had been removed from inside the building. A few feet from where Winn had been killed in the lobby, an electric-powered grand piano played. Light shone through windows that reached almost to the 20-foot ceilings. Tropical fish swam in a tank that covered most of a nearby wall.

A couple of hours later, the guests started filling the seats on the covered walkway outside.

Boose stood with his son, Barry, his best man. Rauber's matron of honor was her daughter, Nancy Robbins. Osteen performed the ceremony under a trellis archway woven with plastic ivy.

The crowd cheered loudly as the couple kissed, and a few of the drivers passing on U.S. 19 honked their horns.

"Ladies and gentlemen, Mr. and Mrs. Allan Boose," Osteen said when the noise died down.

Then her husband, Ray Osteen, ended the ceremony with a standard wedding passage from 1 Corinthians.

"Love is patient and kind," he read. "Love does not insist on its own way. It is not irritable or resentful. It does not rejoice at wrong but rejoices in right."

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