Fate, farmer’s market brought Indialantic couple together

Sylvia Lonnquist and Del Lonnquist

Adam Palumbo

It was love at first sight.

Banjo player Del “Lonnie” Lonnquist, 85, was at a farmer’s market in Helena, Montana. That’s when he took notice and tried to strike up a conversation with Sylvia.

She’s now his wife of two years, and they are the exact same age.

Their magic meeting in the market where Lonnquist was performing they now believe was a matter of fate. They each had traveled thousands of miles to nearly every state in the country before deciding to head home to Montana.

Lonnquist, for 60 years, had performed country and gospel with his wife Lois, whom he lost to Alzheimer ’s disease in 2014. Partly as a way to deal with the loss, the avid motorcycle rider hit the road for three years, traveling a total of 76,000 miles with his instruments in a sidecar before finally retiring from the road and settling in Helena, Montana. He then recorded a CD of his original songs.

A former broadcast journalist and station owner, Lonnquist’s entertainment career began at 15 with a country band. He played the guitar, banjo and vocals. Later, he became a motivational speaker.

Ever the entertainer — something he continues to do regularly for assisted living facilities and others — it was a natural that Lonnquist was playing at the farmer’s market that day.

The two noticed each other while he was on a break and spoke briefly. The meeting left a big impression on Lonnquist, especially the next morning when fate confirmed the earlier spark when he saw Sylvia at the Lutheran Church where he was filling in as an usher.

Sylvia was finishing up a year visiting all 10 of her kids located all over the country, staying about a month at each in her own Air B and B. She was heading back home to Butte, Montana after a visit in Helena with her daughter, kid number 9 on the visit list, who took Sylvia to the farmer’s market and church first noticed Del.

“Her daughter told her ‘that’s the banjo player from the market.’ Neither of us were supposed to be there, but there we were. I made sure to go over to talk to her.

“I said Sylvia, I think the Lord has a hand in this. We should
get married and six weeks later we did. When you’re in your 80s you don’t put stuff off,’’
he said.

After their marriage, the couple moved to Indialantic on Oct. 1, 2019. Since arriving in Brevard County, Del Lonnquist has been playing the banjo at various assisted living facilities.

Now members of the American Red Cross Disaster Action Team, the couple remain active with their church, AARP and are taking Spanish lessons.

Sylvia is now talking Del into volunteering with work crews, who live in campers and travel the country working on homes for the homeless.