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Falling in love

Cupid strikes the after-50 set

News_Shelby_Romance_Randy Chapman_Debra Danburg_kissing
Randy Chapman and Debra Danburg
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Debra Danburg and Randy Chapman
News_Shelby_Romance_Debra Danburg_Randy Chapman
Debra Danburg and Randy Chapman

Forget those dubious statistics that claim that you are more likely to get hit by a truck than find new love after age 50. Just ask Debra Danburg, 58, and Randy Chapman, 60. A former state representative from Houston, Danburg moved to Austin about 15 months ago in search of a new career as a lobbyist and a new life following an unhappy divorce.

Dating opportunities seemed scarce so she turned to eHarmony, the on-line matchmaker through which several of her friends had had success. Several entries had caught her eye but she found none to be promising. Until the day that she noticed an entry with no name, merely the letter "R." The prospect had written a few intriguing sentences about himself and included a photo. It was Randy Chapman, whom Danburg had worked with as a student activitist on the University of Houston campus some 40 years earlier. His wife had died after a long battle with cancer and he was cautiously game for companionship. (Debra had had her own bout with pancreatic cancer in 2007. She is a rare survivor.)

After e-mail exchanges and a few lunches, they began truly dating last summer and in September he gave her a big birthday party in Austin that seemed to seal the romance.

"We finish each other's sentences. We sing silly love songs to one another," she said.  "We've had the same life experiences. We have dozens of mutual friends and they are tickled pink."

They also share the same liberal political leanings. He is executive director of the Texas Legal Services Center that aids the poor and defends individuals' civil rights. The duo has traveled together to his childhood stomping grounds in Hawaii, to visit his friends in Boston and to her favorite haunts in her fave city, New Orleans. Each day and with each new, shared experience, the romance grows stronger.

And in a true sign of commitment, Danburg and Chapman are meeting with architects and builders, planning the expansion of his small house that is strategically located on Austin's lush green belt. Happily, they also share the same taste in architecture, in art and design. In mid-January, Danburg posted their romance on Facebook.

A few days later, he e-mailed CultureMap: "Debra and I look forward to a long and happy life together!"

Monday:  Artist John Palmer and John Lindsay met at Meteor in Montrose in 2002. Love bloomed. They were legally married in Toronto, Canada, in 2008.

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