After meeting at the Scarborough Underwater Club, Jack Purchase and Nora Mark have been diving together here and around the world.

By Kathryn Stocks

Nora Mark and Jack Purchase are not your average Valentine couple. Yes, he brings her coffee every morning and Nora is very appreciative of that, but there is so much more to this active pair who met at the Scarborough Underwater Club (SUCI), and have been together for 15 years.

Nora was a widow at a young age after losing her husband to cancer in 2002. She was married when she was 21 and they had three sons. “It was very, very difficult for me and the kids,” Nora said. It was a challenge for her to get back into the dating game, but she needed some fun in her life. So she joined SUCI to learn how to scuba dive later that year. “It was the best thing I did,” Nora said. She had never tried scuba diving before but she always loved the water.

Jack had been in a relationship for 26 years and he and his wife had two sons. “We drifted apart and finally called it quits in 2006,” he said. He had been scuba diving for a long time and his other passions included flying and canoeing.

On a canoe trip on the Churchill River in Saskatchewan in 2007, he met a young woman who was about to take her diving instructors course. She said he should come and join her scuba club, which turned out to be SUCI. So, being “footloose and fancy free,” he did, and he and Nora took up with each other about eight months later.

Nora was interested in Jack because he was a pilot and she and her husband, Werner, had co-owned a plane. They shared other interests, too, like skiing and hiking. “When we realized there was a serious opportunity here, we went for our first date at an oyster bar downtown,” Jack said. He was living in Whitby at the time.

“Our first dive together was in Tobermory, and when we were late for breakfast the SUCI people in the restaurant broke out laughing,” he said. Nora had been living in Centennial since 1986 and Jack joined her here in 2010. She was an elementary school teacher in Scarborough and he was a robotic engineer.

Building friendships and having things in common are important when you get together later in life, Nora said. Something else they enjoy is travelling and they have been to many countries around the world, often on diving trips. They started off in Indonesia and have been to the Caribbean, as well as the Philippines, the Maldives, Japan and the Grand Canyon.

They’ve been to Europe many times,too, visiting England, Germany, Spain, Switzerland and Austria, which is where Nora’s husband was born. Last year they absolutely loved Lithuania, the home country of their daughter-in-law. “It is quite incredible,” Jack said.

When they started their travels together, Jack was the trip planner, but now he mainly books the flights and Nora books the accommodation. “Nora does an incredible job of finding us very unique and unusual places to stay when we travel,” Jack said. In Switzerland, Nora found a vineyard with two or three rooms that looked out over Lake Geneva and Montreux. “It was amazing,” he said.

When they’re at home, Nora and Jack are happy to spend time with their grandchildren. Nora has four and Jack has one, and they’re all boys. “We’re busy with the blended family,” Nora said. “We’re quite involved with all of them.”

A final word about SUCI: Members often call it the Scarborough Dating Club as there is a long list of people who met there. Happy Valentine’s!