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A great love affair that spanned 50 years

IT was like something from a romantic black-and-white film.

He was a handsome merchant navy captain from Germany, fleeing war-ravaged Europe in 1948. Paul Vollrath had planned to travel to Portugal but the yacht he was on got blown off course and he ended up in Waterford.

That was when he first clapped eyes on his wife-to-be. She was Vera Power, a young, impressionable teenager with a sweet singing voice. Vera's parents were farmers and owned a pub in Tramore.

The pair first met in a seamen's centre in Waterford where 18-year-old Vera was working as a volunteer.

They both fell madly in love. She listened intently to Paul, described as a man full of charm, as he recounted his exciting adventures at sea.

Vera's dad was less than thrilled about the prospects of his daughter marrying a German, but the couple were soon inseparable.

They went on to have three children -- Paul, Gerry and Anna -- and they lived in Tramore, Co Waterford, for most of their lives.

The detached family home where the couple reared their three children was a place of happiness for decades.

Even after the Vollraths' children were reared and had moved away, Vera and Paul remained inseparable.

Their sons, Paul and Gerry, were both engineers and moved to Austria, while Anna lived in Dundrum in Dublin.

He was the chatty one and a gentleman, while Vera would happily stand by and let her husband take the limelight.

But neighbours and friends yesterday said Vera's world was shattered by Paul's sudden death over 10 years ago.

There was no warning before he died and Vera was left on her own in a large house in Tramore Heights.

But the house where she lived continued to be well-kept, and her children often visited, particularly her daughter, Anna.

But friends of the family nonetheless noted how Vera became very low after her husband's sudden death.

Her health deteriorated rapidly and it was obvious that she was heartbroken, they said yesterday.

She didn't drive and although she remained close to many friends and family, she confided that she was lonely without Paul.

As Vera's health worsened, and her memory started to fade, she went into Killure Bridge Nursing Home.

Her friends and family often visited her at the private nursing home and she continued with her great passion in life, singing.

Unfortunately, Vera had started to suffer from Alzheimer's and dementia.

Last December, she suffered a stroke and friends were told she had a brain tumour. Her family were around her bedside praying for their mother, a devout Catholic, for some time before her death.

Irish Independent