One a widower, the other a divorcée, David Pichosky and Rochelle Wise met at a blind date set up by their children, who thought they would hit it off.
They soon married and four happy years followed, punctuated by the flowers Mr. Pichosky bought every Friday for Ms. Wise.
Their easy-going life as retired snowbirds ended tragically this week when they were victims of a double homicide in their Florida winter home.
“They loved Florida. I just can’t believe their life came to an end in a place they loved so much,” said a friend, Pearl Gladman.
Mr. Pichosky, 71, and Ms. Wise, 66, were staying in Venetian Park, an island neighbourhood of pastel stucco townhomes and palm trees favoured by retirees in Hallandale Beach, north of Miami.
The two were supposed to lunch Wednesday with a friend who had been an usher at Mr. Pichosky’s wedding.
The couple, however, didn’t show up. By Thursday afternoon, the concerned friend still hadn’t heard from them and used a spare key to check their home, where he found their bodies.
A spokeswoman for Hallandale Beach police, Captain Sonia Quinones, said detectives suspect foul play. She said the cause of death and possible motive are still under investigation.
In Canada, Mr. Pichosky and Ms. Wise lived in North York and were active members of the Shaarei Shomayim synagogue, a Modern Orthodox Jewish congregation.
Mr. Pichosky, who was known to friends and relatives as Donny, had retired after selling his office-carpet business. A devout man, he prayed every day and observed Shabbat, the Jewish Sabbath.
His first wife, Sandra, had died of breast cancer in 2007.
Mr. Pichosky and Ms. Wise first met at a blind date arranged by their children, one of her relatives, Warren Kimel, said. They married four years ago.
Mr. Pichosky volunteered at the Baycrest seniors’ residence, “visiting the older people, playing cards with them,” Mr. Kimel said.
Each year, before flying to Florida, Mr. Pichosky made sure he took with him a phone list of the seniors he visited at Baycrest, calling each week to wish them a good Shabbat.
Ms. Wise was a former preschool vice-principal at Bialik Hebrew Day School. She was also a founding director of the Crestwood Valley Day Camp. “She was an inspiration to a generation of kids, an example to day-camp directors across Toronto,” the camp said in a statement, praising her “limitless energy, unwavering courage and … passion for children.”
In Florida, she volunteered at a Hebrew day school in Hallandale, helping children with learning problems. She was also an active member of Na’amat, the Jewish women’s organization.
“You couldn’t have found a nicer couple. You couldn’t,” Ms. Gladman said.
On Thursday, Ms. Gladman, who is also wintering in Hallandale Beach, had purchased a bottle of Scotch she intended to bring to a Shabbat dinner with Mr. Pichosky and Ms. Wise.
Late that afternoon, she got a call from Ms. Wise’s daughter.
“Have you seen my mom? … I can’t get her,” the daughter asked.
“I’m on my way,” replied Ms. Gladman, who lived across the road from her friends.
However, when she showed up, the police had already cordoned off the house so white-suited forensic technicians could examine the crime scene.
Some reports had described Venetian Park as a gated community, but Ms. Gladman said it wasn’t.
The neighbourhood, while surrounded by canals and waterways, is not closed off. It isn’t known to have a crime problem, she said.
Mr. Kimel said the couple “had no enemies. It has to be a random act, being at the wrong place at the wrong time.”
Alluding to Mr. Pichosky’s habit of getting his wife flowers every week, Ms. Gladman recalled one occasion when the female cashier said wistfully, “How lovely. Nobody’s ever bought me flowers.”
Mr. Pichosky got a second bouquet and offered it to the cashier.
“I mean, who does that? Who does that? Someone who has a heart and is a kind, caring person,” Ms. Gladman said.
“They’re both kind, caring people. Why them? There’s got to be 50 houses on that strip. Why them?”