Dana Spain and Walt Moore
Feb. 22, 2020, in Philadelphia
Walt was taking the Bellevue Hotel’s elevator up to the Sporting Club, to wrap the hands of the boxers he trains for that 2010 evening’s charity competition. When the doors opened on a higher floor, Dana stepped in.
“I fell in love,” Walt said. “Then I introduced myself to her.”
Dana said a quick hello, but was solidly focused on a television interview she was about to do to promote the match, the proceeds of which would benefit the Philadelphia Animal Welfare Society (PAWS). She founded the charity in 2006 and was then president of its board — in addition to running Spain Development Group, her real estate development company.
Walt couldn’t stop thinking about the woman from the elevator. He pointed her out to Clif — another trainer who then ran the Bellevue’s boxing program.
“That’s Dana Spain, and you don’t stand a chance,” Clif said. Eighteen months out from the divorce that dissolved her 10-year marriage, Dana was dating for fun and leaving her heart at home. But if Walt was determined to try, Clif could give him a hand. Both men did boxing training for fitness clients. Clif worked with Dana, but now had a scheduling conflict. Could Walt train her?
Walt, who was himself four years out from a divorce after a 16-year marriage, never mixed business with potential pleasure. But for this chance, he was willing to break his own rule.
“It was pretty obvious that he was not 100 percent focused on the exercise,” Dana said. The first time her right cross made it past the mitts of the Golden Gloves boxer, she told him they couldn’t train anymore. They had, however, become friends.
“I took him to many parties and charity events and introduced him to every single woman I know,” said Dana, who grew up in Rydal, Montgomery County, and Society Hill.
“I rejected all of her single friends who tried to pick me up,” said Walt, who is from South Philly.
Convinced that someday he and Dana would wind up together, Walt stayed in Dana’s sphere, always ready to volunteer when her charity needed a hand, or don a tux and be her special event plus-one. He dated other women but always told them up front it would never be serious.
On a Sunday afternoon in late June 2014, Walt was on his way to such a date when he saw Dana sitting with three friends next to a large open window at Rouge. Leaning inside, he gave Dana a quick cheek-kiss hello. “You look beautiful. It’s nice to see you,” he said, before zipping off.
“Who the heck is that guy?” asked friend Suzy. “Oh, that’s Walt,” said Rock. “He’s been in love with Dana for years.”
Incredulously, Suzy asked, “Why aren’t you dating him?”
Dana explained that back when she and Walter met, she was just not looking for a relationship. “Now ...” she began. “I don’t have a good reason now.”
“Text him right now and ask him to take you for a drink.” Suzy said.
Dana took her friend’s suggestion. “When?” Walt replied. He told the woman he was with he could not see her anymore.
Dana and Walt scheduled a date for the next week, but before that day arrived, Facebook notified him she had checked in at Delilah’s Den and was celebrating a friend’s good news. The more the merrier, she told him.
Walt walked in, and walked right out of the friend zone. “Wow,” Dana thought. “He really is handsome.”
They kissed for the first time that night, and were instantly exclusive.
“She’s intelligent. She’s honest. She speaks her mind, which makes things in our relationship easy, and she has a caring heart,” said Walter. A serial entrepreneur and philanthropist, Dana is now president of the board of HAVEN Women, Philadelphia’s only shelter for female veterans who are homeless or in transition.
Dana, who is now 50, loves that Walt “handles my crazy,” and that “he is intelligent and clever and measures his words so that when he says something, it’s something worth saying.” Walt, who is now 58, is retired from the SEPTA Police force, on which he served for 25 years. “He’s got a silly side to him and he’s not afraid to show it,” Dana said. “He’ll be panning the room as a cop does, but if I start to dance in the middle of a Target aisle, he dances right along, spinning and dipping me.”
In March 2015, Walt asked Dana’s father, Bernard, for his blessing to propose. “I don’t know if she’ll marry you, but I like you a lot,” Bernard said. “One thing I’ll tell you: Keep it interesting, because she bores easily.” Walt assured him he was up to the challenge.
Within weeks, Walt took Dana to hear a band at Bob & Barbara’s Lounge. He invited some friends, who hid in the Saturday night crowd.
“I got down on one knee, on that sticky floor, and asked her did she want to marry me,” he remembered.
Their friends were appearing as Dana looked him straight in the eye and said: “Are you sure?”
He said yes, and so did she. “The bar of mostly twentysomethings went wild,” Dana remembers.
Soon after, Walt left his place in Rittenhouse Square for hers in Bella Vista. In 2015, they moved to their current home in Washington Square, where they live with cats Mr. B. and Sebastien.
Dana’s charity work with pets and veterans became very important to Walt. “He’s always my best volunteer,” she said.
The couple wed and celebrated with about 80 people at their home. Their wedding date, Feb. 22, was chosen because Walt’s police badge number was 222. Guests included Walter’s sons, Ryan and Cameron, Cameron’s wife, Laura, and their 2-and-a-half-year-old daughter, Eloise, who was flower girl.
Dana is Jewish, Walt is a member of the Powhatan tribe, whose grandfather was a medicine man. Together, they created a ceremony that fit them both.
The party started 30 minutes before the ceremony, so folks had celebratory drinks in hand when Walt walked down the aisle to “At Last.” Dana was escorted by her father while “Ave Maria” played. They exchanged the vows they wrote in front of the living room fireplace. Rock was Dana’s man of honor, and Walt’s police force brothers Will and Jimmy were his best men. Rock’s reading was a mash-up of lyrics from Bill Withers, Diana Ross, and Teddy Pendergrass. Will read “the path of the righteous man” quote from Pulp Fiction, Walt’s favorite movie. Jimmy guarded the rings.
Guests enjoyed hors d’oeuvres and desserts, then gathered again in the temporarily furniture-free living room to dance.
“When both of us were reading our vows, I had a feeling of accomplishment, like my persistence paid off,” Walt said. “It was absolutely worth the wait.”
After they were pronounced husband and wife and turned to face their guests, hand in hand, “there was just a sea of loving and smiling faces, and a feeling of pure love and joy in the room,” said Dana.
A bargain: A wedding at home, with a home-sized guest list.
The splurge: The bride’s red gown was custom made by Romona Keveza. While Walt owns several tuxedos, he got a new one, and his first pair of Louboutins, for the wedding.
A spring trip to Rome, Florence, Venice, and Tuscany is planned.
Behind the Scenes:
Officiant: The Rev. Garrett Ching, a friend of the couple’s who was ordained online, Philadelphia.
Venue: The couple’s home in Washington Square.
Photography: Jeff Wojtaszek, Wojtaszek Weddings, Parker Ford, Pa.
Flowers: Ann Catania, Ten Pennies, Philadelphia.
Bride’s attire: Gown by Romona Keveza, New York, shoes by Valentino.
Groom’s attire: Tuxedo by Armani, shoes by Louboutin.
Hair: John Wojtanowicz, Salon JKU, Philadelphia.
Makeup: Megan Ambroch, Philadelphia.