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The Bridge crowns a new King and Queen
Pete Fontaine
As Valentine's Queen Beverly Perry and King Dr. Domenic Vavala walk up the entranceway to The Bridge at Cherry Hill's main dining room, Perry suddenly stops and plants a kiss on her King's cheek.

The Bridge at Cherry Hill celebrated Valentine's Day in style last Thursday, with a party and royal coronation of their 2013 King and Queen.

Pink linen tablecloths and red-foil centerpieces set the scene, as residents lined up beyond the dining room doors. Once seated, entertainer Bob Bourassa introduced the royal couple and King Dr. Domenic Vavala and Queen Beverly Perry made their grand entrance, clad in gold crowns and red velvet capes.

"This is special for everyone," said General Manager Maryann Grace. "We always try to make the crowning of our King and Queen special."

Last year, the oldest residents at the Bridge were chosen as King and Queen; this year, names were pulled from a hat at random.

Grace was pleased with the outcome and said that this year's winners are both "very interesting people."

The 88-year-old Dr. Vavala was born on Feb. 1, 1925. He was born in Providence and served 20 years in the United States Air Force before retiring as a lieutenant colonel. He's also a cardiologist who has the rare distinction of being a life member of the Military Surgeons of the United States.

"Not only is Dr. Vavala an MD, he also has his PhD in Physiology," said Grace.

Dr. Vavala worked as a cardiologist while in the Air Force.

"I served in the United States Air Force for 20 years," Dr. Vavala said. "That was 20 years, three months and four days to be exact."

He served in World War II, the Korean War and the Vietnam War.

After his retirement, Dr. Vavala became The Magnificent Rector and President of the Constantinian University in Providence, which Grace explained is connected with Johnston & Wales University.

"And much to his credit, Dr. Vavala was instrumental in developing the chapel here at The Bridge at Cherry Hill," Grace said.

Perry, meanwhile, will soon celebrate her 70th birthday.

"She was born on April 3, 1933," Grace said of Perry, who enjoyed a 16-year career as a social worker for the state of Rhode Island.

She was also a foster parent for more than 25 years and has six children.

"We always had 10 kids in the house ... kind of like 'Family Circus,'" Perry said.

Perry lives in the Johnston-based facility with her dog, Tinkerbelle, who is 12 years old.

"I like to keep active," she said. "I enjoy bowling, dancing, games and I'm always up for a challenge."

Her latest of which was planting a Happy Valentine's Day kiss on the cheek of Dr. Vavala, with whom she'll share royalty until 2014, when another King and Queen are crowned.


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