(KCRG/CNN) — In Cedar Rapids, Iowa, there’s an 85-year-old man who’s a regular at karaoke. In fact, he’s performed at one Cedar Rapids lounge for one thousand consecutive nights and his story is inspiring everyone that gets to meet him.
Sammy’s Lounge isn’t the first place you’d expect to find 85-year-old Donald DeCamp.
But for his one-thousandth night in a row at the bar, DeCamp orders a soda and waits, and when the microphone is his, he becomes Don Juan, serenading ladies he handpicks from the crowd.
“He would see girls sitting by themselves, kind of wallflowers, so he would put them up on a chair and sing to them,” said his friend Carolyn Trinkle.
After serenading hundreds of women, night after night, he gives them each his signature handmade calling card. They’re memories that line his living room, along with a list to keep track of the names.
Many are lifelong friends, but for DeCamp, the songs remind him of the one woman who instantly stole his heart.
It’s a love story that started decades ago when he walked into a bar while stationed in France.
“She was right straight ahead of me, looking my way, and had a table by herself.” A nod her way turned into a dance and the rest is history — one that included three sons and 60 years of marriage.
But it’s a love story that Alzheimer’s ultimately stole away. “She started losing her ability to walk, and all of a sudden, she couldn’t talk. For over two-and-a-half years, there was no communication. But I fed her every lunch and every supper.”
After DeCamp’s wife Lore died, he said “The karaoke saved me, because at night, I could forget all of it until the next day. I didn’t come here and sit and brew about it. It does no good.”
His songs led to new love stories, like the lounge’s bartender who asked DeCamp to serenade the love of his life just before proposing to her.
And the woman who lives across the hall from DeCamp who has become his partner. The songs are now part of their own love story.