Olden Opportunity

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In Los Angeles, Ed married for the first time. The couple had two children, but divorced after moving to the Bay Area. He took a job in Oakland with a phone company, working his way up the ladder to senior engineer.

Ed returned to active duty with the Navy during World War II, working as a cryptographer. He returned to civilian life and the phone company after the war, then retired to Sun City in 1960 with a nice nest egg.

After his second wife died, Ed continued to go on the ocean cruises he adored. He met his third wife, Alice Anne, on tour in Spain. She was 22 years younger than he, but also recently had lost a spouse. They clicked, and married in 1987.

Alice Anne's death in 1996 shattered Ed. Within weeks, he signed a document that named his grandson, Gary, an Alabama resident, as executor and sole beneficiary of his estate. Living alone, Ed's health and his spirit were failing. In 1997, he says, he realized he needed intensive assistance.

Ed contracted with Sun City Home Health, which provides live-in care givers, if needed. He was known as a demanding client, and inevitably would ask his female care givers if they wanted to take a cruise with him.

He wasn't just flirting. Records show Ed already had paid for his spot on a two-month South American cruise on the Royal Viking Sun, which was scheduled to set sail in late October. But the cruise line had told him he'd need to bring someone to care for him during the long trip.

Late last summer, Sun City Home Health assigned a new employee to work at Ed Gamble's home.

"I met Lorraine on August 10, 1999--no, no, 1998," Ed says. "She came to take care of me. Didn't take me long to see she knew how to cook an egg, and she's not bad-looking."

Lorraine was two weeks from her 38th birthday. She was miserable.
"This isn't a pity party," she says, "but I had nothing--no house, no car. I had split from my husband, I was broke and I was living with a friend."

Born in New Jersey, Lorraine as a youngster moved to Phoenix, where she and her brother were raised by her divorced mother. She got married for the first time at 16, to a young man from Phoenix who'd joined the Navy.

Lorraine moved to Guam with her new husband, where she lived for seven years. She was divorced, remarried and divorced again before she was 20. In Guam, she barely survived a car accident. Her mother says the wreck left her with brain damage and other serious injuries.

Lorraine bounced around after moving back to the States in the early 1980s, working, among other places, in bars, casinos, a gas station and for an orthodontist. A third, short-lived marriage ended when she was 25.

"She couldn't really find her place in life," Gloria DeJongh says.
Lorraine's marriage to her fourth husband foundered in 1998 after he got fired, and the couple lost their Phoenix home and car to foreclosure.

By the time she moved in with a girlfriend last July, Lorraine had found work as a care giver for a Sun City agency. The pay was meager, but she says she enjoyed working with the elderly.

She switched to Sun City Home Care in early August, and was assigned to Ed Gamble's home as one of two care givers working successive eight-hour shifts.

Says attorney Paul Blunt, "Within eight hours of walking in there, she has procured about a $30,000 personal benefit--the cruise. She then marries the individual and becomes the sole beneficiary of a fairly substantial estate. That's troublesome on the face of it."

Lorraine agrees that Ed wasted no time in inviting her to go on the trip, but says she initially declined--"I was trying to get a divorce, and things were a mess."

Ed was smitten.
"I took her to my club for her birthday, August 24," he recalls, "and she was wearing a red dress. I really got to see how beautiful she was."

On Labor Day weekend, however, Lorraine nearly ruined her rare run of good fortune. She says police stopped her on suspicion of DUI after she went out for a drink with a girlfriend. That led to the short clash with a sheriff's deputy, during which she allegedly elbowed him in the gut. (She denies this.)

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Paul Rubin
Contact: Paul Rubin