By Adam Kramer
Being your own person, doing your own things and spending time — but not every hour — together are the keys to a long an healthy marriage.
This was the philosophy espoused by three couples who have been married for more than 50 years at the Services Now for Adult Persons’ second annual ceremony celebrating the milestone.
The three couples were among 20 couples who renewed their vows with the help of state Assemblyman Mark Weprin (D-Bayside) at SNAP Senior Center Valentine’s Day in Queens Village.
“Everything gets better and we get along better. We don’t beat each other up as we used to” said Helen Englehart, 73, as she lovingly jabbed her husband, Harry, of 50 years. “We decided to participate in the event because we though it was a nice thing to do.”
The Engleharts, who have two children and six grandchildren, met in Flushing, where they still live. Harry, 77, said he met his wife after World War II when as neighbors “they bumped into each other on the street.”
They agreed their marriage has survived five decades because there is “no real boss” and even though they enjoy each other’s company, they do not spend 24 hours a day, seven days a week with each other.
The 20 couples who participated in the event were blissfully married and enjoying their lives together in matrimonial unions that have lasted from 50 years to 62 years
“It is Valentine’s Day,” said Rita Kopeloff, 71, who has been married to her husband, Alvin, for 54 years. “We wanted to show everyone that we care about each other.”
The couple, who live in Bayside, have two children, six grandchildren and two great grand children. They met at a dance at the Tremont Center in the Bronx after World War II. Rita said it was not love at first sight because her husband was “going with her cousin. After they broke up, we started dating.”
Alvin Kopeloff, 76, said the couple’s staying power was what brought them together more than a half century ago — “we got married because we enjoy each other’s company.”
Jokingly, he added “pathetic fortitude.” Then, quickly, he changed his answer to “we have respect for each other.”
SNAP, a senior citizens’ day center housed on the Creedmoor campus in Queens Village, was founded in 1979. It provides services to older people living in the area that stretches from Glen Oaks to Bayside and from Queens Village to Douglaston. The center is open from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Monday through Friday.
Dr. Linda Leest, executive director of SNAP, said that with so many people living well into their 80s and 90s, the social and educational options for them continue to diminish. SNAP tries to pick up the slack by providing a social environment where seniors can take classes, go to dances and participate in activities geared to invigorate the elderly.
“This is the second year that I helped to renew marriage vows,” said Weprin. “I had such a good time and I was delighted they asked me to do it again. It was reaffirming to see all these couples married for so many years.”
SNAP came up with the idea to honor these couples, he said, and Weprin said he found that officiating at the Valentine’s Day ceremony was a “nice thing to do.”
“When I want to do my own thing, he says go and do it,” said Eleanor Manganaro who has been married to her husband, Louis, for 52 years. “When he watches sports, I go somewhere else.”
Chiming in, Louis said that does not mean that they do not spend time together. He said they travel, take part in activities at SNAP and enjoy their retirement at their home in New Hyde Park.
Reach reporter Adam Kramer by e-mail at Timesledgr@aol.com or call 229-0300, Ext. 157.