In June 28 issue, Russell County NewsStory and Photos By Derek AaronRussell County News EditorABOVE: John and Sylvia Weeks have lived in Jamestown for 12 years. The couple gives free ballroom dancing lessons on Tuesdays at 7 p.m. at the Senior Citizen’s Center.
Growing up in separate parts of England, this week’s “Russell County Heroes” never imagined that they would live their retired lives in Jamestown, teaching dancing to any and all comers.
John and Sylvia Weeks have lived in Jamestown for a dozen years, but it was just a few short months ago when the couple agreed to give free ballroom dancing lessons to anyone 18 and older … indeed something new for Russell County.
The lessons take place at the Russell Springs Senior Citizens Center on Tuesdays at 7 p.m. Donations to the Senior Citizen’s Center are accepted, she said.
“We have a lot of fun dancing,” Sylvia said.
“I’ve danced all my life,” she said. “As a kid, I couldn’t stand still.” She said she rode a bicycle to dance class and back home again during her childhood years. John’s interest in ballroom dancing came later as Sylvia and he decided to take dance lessons.
“For years we put dancing on the back burner,” John said. That is until now as they have been getting good turnouts from folks at the local dancing lessons. The couple even has their own dance floor in the basement of their house where they, as well as friends, sometimes dance.
The two were deeply involved with the Russell County Hospital Auxiliary’s Dancing with the Starts several months ago, helping some of those in the competition to learn all the right moves.
Both of them say the health benefits of dancing are great as it gives you a great cardiovascular workout as well as burning calories.
John and Sylvia’s life has taken a lot of twists before finally landing in Jamestown’s Viewpointe subdivision 12 years ago.
John worked for many years at Ford Motor Company in Michigan while Sylvia stayed with her children and others at home, the latter for the state of Michigan, for many years and as a manager of Sunglass Hut for four years. John also helped to start a very successful youth soccer program in Michigan as soccer was big in his homeland.
When asked why move to this area from Michigan after they both retired, Sylvia said, “the air and water is cleaner and there is less pollution.”
“Once you cross the Ohio border going north you can smell the gas pollution,” she said.
John said he loved the laid back atmosphere of Russell County but that it sometimes feels a bit too laid back.
This is one of the reasons for starting the dancing lessons at the center, to liven this place up.
The couple said they are looking forward to the Jamestown Center’s dance hall opening and commended the center’s owner, George Alford, for putting in such a business.
John said he hoped people would support dancing at the center and that couples are welcome at all their dance classes.
Sylvia was born and raised in England’s Nottingham, of Robin Hood fame, while John, a former military man, is originally from Southampton, the largest city on England’s south coast.
“We all first immigrated to Canada separately,” she said. The two of them first moved to Canada and then the United States with their first spouses.
After both of their previous marriages ended, John, who has been in America since 1965, and Sylvia, who has been in America since 1967, began seeing one another and was eventually married in 1977.
The two had known each other for several years before this as well.
The couple, who both still have rich English accents, said they don’t get homesick for Michigan because of the cold and snow or for England because of the harsh reality of day-to-day life and poverty.
The Weeks’ family is dotted all over the globe as John has a sister and nephew in Australia and Sylvia has a sister in New Zealand as well as a brother in England. A son from John’s previous marriage still resides in England as do three of his sisters. The couple has a total of seven children between them.
They have one daughter together, Heather Weeks, also of Jamestown, who nominated them as this week’s heroes. Heather is the mother of three children, as well.
“It’s difficult to keep in contact with family farther away and we usually just exchange at Christmas time,” Sylvia said.
The Weeks both said they grew up very poor in England and said their food was rationed as well as having to find activities to bide their time, such as homemade toys or games. Both said their Christmas presents often consisted of a single apple or orange.
Life has since changed for the Weeks as they have a nice life with a nice home and are living out their retirement on the dance floor.