Klassic Coffee Klatch Brings Isolated Seniors Together

Tomcat Pence (left) presents the late actor Ed Asner with the ACOF Man of the Year Award during the 2016 celebration in Orlando. Photo by John McDonald.

Once a week, they sit down in front of their computers to share their world, their lives, discuss current events or just tell a joke or two.

“A lot of these guys don’t have any other like-minded men to talk to,” said Tom aka “Tomcat” Pence, organizer of the Saturday morning Klassic Coffee Klatch on Zoom. 

Predominately older and retired, the men come from all walks of life and from all over the world. 

“Our No. 1 rule is to be kind to each other,” Pence said. 

For those living in communities like Wilton Manors and Palm Springs, California, it can be easy to forget the challenges of living an openly gay life in less tolerant places. When the COVID-19 pandemic struck, the coffee klatch was created to connect isolated seniors to their peers. 

“We reach those that cannot be reached,” said Pence, a retired casino croupier who served in the Marines and now calls South Florida home. 

On any given Saturday morning, around 25 guys log into Zoom and are given a few minutes to share what’s happening in their lives with the group. Former politicians, lawyers, law enforcement officers, “prime timers” and world-wise travelers trade barbs with others, who a few weeks prior, were complete strangers. Through the online program, friendships have formed and some even consider themselves family. 

Lou Wangberg is a regular on the klatch. Wangberg is a former lieutenant governor of Minnesota, who winters in Fort Lauderdale and hosts a weekly online discussion on historical topics. 

“Life is a never-ending mystery,” said Wangberg, who served as Minnesota’s 41st lieutenant governor from 1979 to 1983. “For those who are fortunate enough to live long, it can be lonely at times.”

Now 83, Wangberg is often called upon for analysis when the group delves into political issues.

“Many of the guys are well-educated and come from a variety of backgrounds, so they all have something to bring to the table,” Wangberg said. “And the conversations are often delightfully ‘naughty’ and we all enjoy that.”

The Klassic Coffee Klatch is a component of Tomcat’s A Celebration of Friends organization, a group for mature men and their admirers. For over two decades, the group has gathered for its annual celebration, with this year’s festivities taking place June 20-23 at Pineapple Point Guesthouse in Fort Lauderdale.

A tight-knit group of 60 men is expected to attend this year’s celebration. In years past, the group has met in Orlando, Key West and Palm Springs with special guest appearances by the late actor Ed Asner and former Congressman Barney Frank. 

The gathering typically involves a lot of relaxing in the sun and pool without the need to impress. 

“The men who attend our celebrations are the guys who are tired of dealing with kids and are seeking a little maturity in their relationships,” Pence said. “They’re realists who no longer seek out the body perfect muscle men.” 

After seeing the ACOF website, Gail, a retired school counselor living in Naples, made contact with the group during the pandemic and by the time the celebration resumed in 2022, he felt as if he was seeing old friends again. 

“We gathered at tables or in the pool and swapped life stories,” he said. “The meals were great and the activities fun too.” 

Sadly, Gail lost his life partner six months later. That’s when he discovered the true meaning of friendship. 

“The members of ACOF became my rock,” he said. “Daily phone calls and messages helped pull me through the most difficult situation I have ever faced. The weekly Zoom meetings became a life-line to normalcy again.”


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