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Elderly Omaha couple still dancing after 66 years

September 30, 2018

OMAHA, Neb. (AP) — People call them the “Fred and Ginger” of the dance floor.

Dave Beber, 95, and wife Arlene, 85, dance elegantly, as they have for 66 years. But they downplay the longevity numbers.

“It depends on how you feel,” Dave said. “I say I’m 39.”

Long ago he asked Arlene to dance at a wedding reception, and they have done so ever since. Their car’s license plate: DANCN L8.

Every Monday night, they glide along the floor at the Ozone Lounge at Anthony’s Restaurant, 72nd and F Streets, enjoying big-band music. They don’t claim to be the equals of Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers, but musicians and other dancers make the comparison and admire the Omaha couple.

“When I grow up,” said band leader Mike Gurciullo, “I want to be like Dave.”

The couple don’t just do ballroom dancing. They are longtime fans of “The Rumbles” band, and classic rock also inspires them to cut a rug — though dance floors are not carpeted.

Arlene said her husband was an excellent dancer from the start, and is “very caring and considerate and a good provider. He’s also funny and he’s a good singer.”

Said Dave: “Arlene is beautiful. I’ve had her on a pedestal, and I learned to say, ‘Yes, ma’am.’”

The Bebers, who worked together in their medical billing business, have outlasted a lot of venues where they danced, the Omaha World-Herald reported.

“Mr. C’s, Guitars and Cadillacs, Peony Park, Maxine’s, Surf City, Marriott, Sheraton, Playboy, Safari, Ramada, Music Box, Bumpers, Ross’ and so many others,” Dave Beber said. “All gone now, but we’re still here.”

They married on March 30, 1952, at the old Blackstone Hotel. For decades, it’s been an office building, but now there’s talk of restoring it as a hotel.

If it happens, Dave Beber said, they would like to renew their vows there.

The Bebers are fit and trim. Dancing helps keep them healthy, they said, and they’ve met a lot of nice people.

Time takes its toll, and they acknowledge that growing older, as the expression goes, isn’t for sissies.

“When you’re old, everything hurts, and it hurts worse if you sit around talking to other old people,” Dave Beber said. “So go out and talk to young people as much as you can.”

In addition to a lifetime of dancing and hard work, the couple had six sons.

With a twinkle in his eyes and a smile, Dave Beber quipped: “We did other things besides dance!”

A romantic, Dave gave Arlene a dozen roses when their first son was born, then two dozen for the second son, and three dozen for the third. When the youngest was born, yes, she received 72 roses.

It’s not exactly that they kept trying for a daughter, but Arlene said a doctor told Dave that he’d probably just end up with enough sons for a baseball team.

The male births continued into the next generation — the first seven grandchildren were boys. The string was broken when Joslyn Beber was born 22 years ago.

How did Arlene Beber celebrate? “I bought dresses!”

Once upon a time, Dave Beber asked Arlene onto the dance floor. Ever since, they’ve stayed close — taking life one step at a time.

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Information from: Omaha World-Herald, http://www.omaha.com

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