When Rockville’s Joan Vassos tearfully left “The Golden Bachelor,” ABC’s senior dating show, she chose motherhood over romance despite her obvious connection with franchise star Gerry Turner. Apparently, that didn’t end her televised search for love.

The network announced this week that the 61-year-old school administrator is the first-ever “Golden Bachelorette,” finding herself in Turner’s shoes as the one who has their pick of hopeful suitors. The show, which premieres this fall, will no doubt feature handsome gentleman, drama, heartbreak and, hopefully, a happy ending.

The widowed Vassos was an early favorite of viewers and of Turner, with whom she shared a romantic one-on-one date. But by the third episode, she self-eliminated from the show after receiving word that her daughter, who had given birth days before she left Maryland for the California “Bachelor” set, was battling postpartum depression. She was applauded for her decision, but didn’t think she’d done anything extraordinary.

“People are giving me credit I don’t deserve,” she told The Baltimore Banner last fall. “Any good mother would have left. People have said, ‘I would have done the same thing.’ It’s lovely to have that reinforced. It feels good. My daughter was having a hard time navigating mental health in this country, which is not a surprise. With postpartum, all of a sudden you’re extremely sad while you’re trying to keep a baby alive. It’s very, very hard. I had to go. There was someone who needed me, an immediate need.”

Turner, a former restaurant owner and widower, went on to wed contestant Theresa Nist, but their marriage lasted a scant 100 days, the shortest of any union in the “Bachelor” franchise. Here’s hoping that Vassos’ love story this fall turns out to be more fruitful.

Leslie Gray Streeter is a columnist excited about telling Baltimore stories — about us and the things that we care about, that touch us, that tickle us and that make us tick, from parenting to pop culture to the perfect crab cake. She is especially psyched about discussions that we don't usually have. Open mind and a sense of humor required.

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