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Moldaw Seniors Reflect on Relationships and Marriage: One couple married 67 years, another just over a year

Henry and Anita Sterngold, Moldaw residents married just over a year
Henry and Anita Sterngold, Moldaw residents married just over a year
Two couples who now live at Moldaw Residences have found their true loves and have great insight when comes to maintaining healthy romantic relationships. Originally from Brooklyn, Herm and Dorothy (Dot) Shapiro have lived all over California from Los Angeles to San Francisco to Santa Rosa to Sunnyvale until finally residing in Palo Alto, and at 90 years old, they have a lot of adventures to reminisce. They just celebrated their 67th wedding anniversary last month and are enjoying each other every day. Henry Sterngold, 90, and his wife Anita, 76, were friends for many years before they both lost their spouses and decided to date each other. Just over a year ago, they got married and united their families into one. Both couples have amazing insight to offer regarding relationships and believe there is someone out there for each individual. In fact, they hope everyone can have the same kind of happy marriage they have treasured.

“We were 23 when we met on Memorial Day weekend 1946,” said Herm. “I had recently returned home to Brooklyn from WWII service and went up to a resort in the mountains with some friends for the weekend. I was playing basketball when this red-haired girl playing on the volleyball court just across the way caught my eye. I threw the basketball at her to get her attention, and so began our 67 years of marriage.”

Herm was pleased to find out Dorothy also was from Brooklyn, so after that weekend, they kept in touch and dated each other. In September, Herm proposed to Dorothy after a date night out with his parents celebrating their wedding anniversary. They caught a Broadway show, and as Herm was walking Dorothy home, he paused to kneel down on one knee and ask her to marry him. By January of the following year, they were married.

“We had been dating continually after we met that weekend, and I had hoped he would ask, but at that moment that night – it was a pleasant surprise,” recalls Dorothy.

Herm said he always thought marriage was a 50/50 deal, but looking back he feels that Dorothy always gave him a larger percentage and took less herself. They raised two boys and one daughter and now have six grandchildren, three great-grandchildren and two more on the way.

“My wife is truly a wonderful person and the best thing in my life,” said Herm. “She’s brought up three kids, never complained and always worked hard and helped me through things along the way. I don’t know where I’d be without her.”

When it comes to advice, Herm says everyone has their own personalities and develops different ones to an extent after they get married. There always will be ups and downs in any family, but he and Dorothy certainly both learned the most by listening rather than talking. Herm admits that Dorothy’s patience and ability to keep calm has helped him not rush into things or get too excited too quickly about various situations.

“My husband can have quite a temper, but he is a very considerate and giving person,” said Dorothy. “Over the years, he’s never forgotten a birthday or an anniversary; he’s always been a loving man, and usually when he calms down from whatever has gotten him upset, he realizes it was never important. Now, we’re just enjoying our golden years together – life is good. And whatever time we have left, we just want to spend it together.”

Herm recalls arriving home at the end of WWII from service and declaring to himself that he was going to find the love of his life, and he was fortunate to do that with Dorothy. He believes anyone who has a marriage like theirs, will have a wonderful life. They both worked hard in their various ventures but also managed to spend quality time together travelling all over the world. Herm and Dorothy look back fondly on their amazing trips together from a safari in Africa to the jungles of Costa Rica to a “thousand mile trip” down the Amazon in Brazil.

On the other hand, the Sterngolds’ relationship is one of fate and opportunity. That is what Henry believes brought them together. He met his wife Anita years ago when he was married to someone else, and they double dated with her spouse at the time and developed a strong friendship.

“I remember meeting her in 1986,” said Henry. “But who knew we would end up getting married in 2012?”

Anita grew up in South America and eventually moved to the States in 1977 with her family. They lived in Fort Lauderdale during the same time period that Henry lived there. However, Henry and Anita never met until both ended up living fortuitously in California and were already married to different people. They went out as couples, and the four of them had fun double dating together. Henry cherished his 52 years of marriage but lost his wife in 2000. Anita was married for 48 happy years until her husband passed away in 2006. A year or so after her loss, Henry and Anita began dating each other and realized how much they had in common and enjoyed each other’s company.

“As time passed and we kept spending time together, we really felt that we were falling in love,” said Henry. “We have similar interests, like our love for travel and attending symphonies. We both moved into Moldaw in October 2012, and then the next month, we decided to get married.”

“We’d had a strong friendship established and things seemed to fall into place, so taking the next step for marriage just felt natural,” said Anita. “Henry’s such a caring and understanding man, and being married and having that life partner makes life worth living. We still love traveling together and visiting each other’s families – including our children and grandchildren who are spread out across the States.” 

Henry believes it is important to have a deep understanding toward each other in a marriage. Being willing to compromise and find that middle ground is crucial as well.

“We just wanted a small wedding ceremony,” said Henry laughing. “But bringing our two families together with all of our kids and grandkids – it ended up being quite large. Our kids love us being together, and it’s truly been just a wonderful experience overall.”

ABOUT MOLDAW RESIDENCES

Moldaw Residences is an innovative senior living community located at the 8.5 acre Taube Koret Campus for Jewish Life, adjacent to the 130,000 square foot Oshman Family Jewish Community Center. As a continuing care retirement community (CCRC), Moldaw Residences enables older adults to age in place by providing independent living, assisted living and memory support. Opened in 2009, Moldaw Residences offers 193 maintenance free, spacious apartment homes and extensive social and cultural amenities. Affiliated with the Jewish Senior Living Group, it is open to all faiths, ethnicities, and racial background. 

For more information about Moldaw Residences of Palo Alto, visit www.moldaw.org or call (800) 873-9614.

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