Bob Richards said he knew it was a sign from God.

Virginia Heidler had fallen flat on her face, breaking her nose right in front of him while skating.

They had been looking at each other all night, and now he had his opportunity to meet the woman he had fallen in love with at first sight.

"I helped her up and (she was taken) to the hospital," said Bob Richards, 94. "And I rushed to the rescue to take her home. I met her mother and father. I went back the next night to see how she was coming along, and I kept going back."

Bob Richards recalled his relationship beginnings with his now wife Virginia "Ginny" Richards, 91, as the couple plan to observe their 74th wedding anniversary Sept. 3.

But first they will celebrate their love on Valentine's Day.

"I couldn't wait to give her a gift, so I did that (Wednesday)," Bob Richards said. "Then I'm going to give her another gift and candy on Valentine's Day. I just love her so much."

The Richardses live at Senior Commons at Powder Mill in York Township. Bob Richards stays in the residential care area, while Virginia Richards, who has dementia, stays in the memory care section.

"He is so caring for her," said Denise Lauer, Senior Commons' director of resident life. "He hates being apart from her. He comes and spends a lot of time with her. The way they love each other is a dying art. Who's got that love anymore?"

Virginia Richards said her husband is a kind, nice, and good man.

The Richardses have a son, Bob Richards Jr., 72, of Arlington, Va.; four grandchildren; and 10 great-grandchildren. Another son, Don Richards, died in 2006 at age 58.

"That was one of the saddest days in our lives," Bob Richards said.

The couple had already lost Don Richards' son, Niles Richards, who died at age 22 in 1997 after an illness.

Bob Richards said he and his wife treasure their 73-year marriage and how they were able to work together to raise their children while continuing to grow in their own relationship.

When they first got married, Virginia Richards told him that someone has to be in charge, Bob Richards recalled.

"She said, 'You can be the boss as long as you are fair,'" he said. "I believe I was fair to her and she was fair to me. She is a caring person. She helped people whenever she could."

For a long-lasting marriage, couples need to agree on family and financial goals, learn how to compromise and find ways to get past their disagreements, Bob Richards said.

"Work this out," he said. "Somebody has to give in. Of course, we had our arguments, but we never considered divorce. Never!"

-Reach Eyana Adah McMillan at emcmillan@yorkdispatch.com.