Boro civic activists toast nearly 60 years of marriage

By Zach Patberg

Nor was Estelle swept off her feet when Norbert, who had waited for her at a Brooklyn subway station after school that day, couldn't pay her nickel fare.Only when he rang her doorbell more than two years later as a decorated World War II lieutenant did Estelle finally agree to a date.”I answered the door and he was standing there with all his medals,” Estelle said of her husband of nearly 60 years. “The medals did it.”Norbert insists it was his good looks and intellectual prowess.The couple married in 1947. They moved into a Forest Hills apartment in 1961 and since then have together continued to battle civic problems in the community. As founders of the Forest Hills Action League, the duo has been most vocal recently over pedestrian safety on Queens Boulevard, known as the “Boulevard of Death.”During the war, of course, their focus was different.While Norbert served overseas, Estelle split her time between dating, working as a sales clerk and watching for incoming enemy planes from rooftops as a USO volunteer. When the two finally settled down together near Washington D.C., Norbert was a Georgetown University graduate working for the State Department and Estelle was a personnel director for a department store.Currently living in Forest Hills, retired and in their 80s, they remain dedicated to their community, their son John, their three grandchildren and each other.”He has always had such a uniqueness of character,” Estelle said of her husband. “He was compassionate enough to care for people and smart enough to know what they're thinking.”Norbert worked hard to earn such praise, beginning with a steady flow of letter-writing to Estelle while in Europe in order to out-court her other dates.It wasn't easy. The then-military intelligence officer recalled receiving a nice letter from Estelle in 1945 that began “Dear George…””She got the boyfriends mixed up,” Norbert said. “It was the only mistake she's ever made.”

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