Ross Kistler, owner of Kistler Barber Shop in Sewickley, wasn’t ready to date yet when he first met his third wife, the late Martha “Marti” DiGioia, on an internet-dating service.
It was shortly after the death of his wife, and, he said, he still was grieving. Marti understood that, and they decided to not see each other.
But that wasn’t the end of it. They were destined to meet again.
The book, “Adventures with My Mouse,” which Kistler is getting published through Amazon.com and will be available next month, was written with Rob Ruggles, a man Marti had met on an Internet-dating site.
During that time, Marti often came back to Sewickley to have lunch and talk about the book with former classmates in the Sewickley High School Class of 1953.
Grace King, one of those classmates, said she always will remember the first time Marti told the group she was planning on writing a book about internet dating and told them that’s how she met Kistler.
“Well, to us, that was something the younger people did. But we wanted to know all about it,” King said.
“I asked Ross about the book after her death, and he said Marti had been writing the last chapter. How wonderful it was for him to make sure it was published,” she said.
Since her death, Kistler and Kathy Bouser, one of Marti’s friends in Oakmont, have been working with Amazon.com’s marketing and publishing division to complete the book.
Kistler plans to have copies of the book for sale at his barbershop and Penguin Bookshop also is considering carrying the book, he said.
Kistler said everyone his wife met – those at her church in Oakmont and those she worked with at Sherwood and at Longwood Senior Care, where she was marketing director – had been fascinated with how “gutsy” she was to try Internet dating.
“A lot of senior citizens are afraid to go Internet-dating sites for whatever reason. Some are afraid they’ll get scammed,” Kistler said.
When Marti related some of her experiences to various friends and colleagues, they kept saying, “You should write a book.”
In the book, she tells seniors not to meet up with others and stay anonymous until they are totally comfortable with the person.
Because she wanted to include the male point of view in the book, as well as the female perspective, she and Ruggles alternated writing chapters about their views, experiences and advice about Internet- dating services.
“When people read it, they will think that she and Rob ended up married, but Marti wrote an epilogue in the back to set the record straight, and said she and Rob were just friends,” Kistler said.
Instead, it was she and Kistler who ended up falling in love.
While she was writing the book, she and Kistler continued to talk and found out they had similar friends in the area and at Sherwood Oaks in Cranberry, where she worked in marketing.
They also shared much in common. Both had been divorced, and both had lost their second spouses to cancer after only a few years of marriage. They also both have two sons.
They decided to get together for coffee because Marti again was going to be in town. They met again at her home so Kistler could pick up some wine she bought him. They had dinner together, sat on her porch swing and fell in love.
He dropped out of the Internet-dating service because he said he had found the woman he wanted. They married Oct. 28, 2009, and Kistler moved from Emsworth to his-wife’s home.
They were together for less than two years. His wife died of cancer Aug. 23.
It was while she was working on the final chapter of the book that she began to get headaches. At the time, she thought the headaches were caused by so much time on the computer.
But doctors discovered she had brain cancer and upon further tests, found cancer in several other spots in her body. Within eight weeks after diagnosis, Marti, 76, died.
Marti, whose father was the late Rev. Charles Tracey, pastor at Sewickley United Methodist Church, played the organ and piano and conducted choirs at several Oakmont churches.
She also created the Oakmont Christmas Carol Walk, which involved many churches in that area, and directed the singing for the community’s Memorial Day celebration for the past 25 years.
After the death of her second husband, she stayed single for 21 years until meeting Kistler.
“I can’t believe she stayed single for that long. She was such a talented and beautiful woman,” he said.
Although Kistler said he does plan to check into Internet dating again and use some of his late wife’s advice in the book, he also plans to wait a little longer while he grieves her death.
King said she is glad her friend wrote the book – especially now that she has died because she has left a legacy that might help other senior citizens who would never think to try Internet dating.