Bob Sparrow of Hollis Hills, Queens, recalls meeting future wife Marcia at summer camp.

 

It was 1954, and I was 19 and about to enter Columbia Law School. A friend, upon hearing of my plan to be a summer camp counselor in Canaan, Connecticut, told me her Brooklyn College classmate, Marcia, 18, was to be a counselor at the same camp.

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On July 1, at the end of opening day at camp, the counselors gathered at the canteen. Outside, in the dim light, I spied this sultry beauty sitting on a stone wall, and bells went off in my head. My first words were, "Hi, you must be Marcia." To which she replied, "And you must be Bob." If there is such a thing as love at first sight -- we were both stricken, and we have been inseparable for the 61 years since that wondrous, mystical night.

Our days off were spent hitchhiking all over the Berkshire foothills. We fell deeply in love, but at summer's end we agreed to date others when we returned home to Brooklyn. After we each endured a single date, we knew we had to go steady, as our futures were clearly, inevitably to be shared.

We married on April 14, 1957, just before I graduated from law school. That October, I enlisted in the Army, served six months active duty and then went into the active reserves. I spent two weeks of what would have been our summer vacation at Camp Drum (since renamed Fort Drum), in northern New York near the Canadian border, and one night a week at the local armory the rest of the year. I was a staff sergeant when my service ended in 1963.

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In those first years of marriage, Marcia supported us on her $4,000 annual salary as a kindergarten teacher with the New York City public school system. In 1960, she stopped teaching to become a full-time mom to our two children. We traveled extensively, often with the kids, and have seen much of this incredible planet. Along the way there were triumphs and tragedies. In 1990, I donated a kidney to my daughter, who was in renal failure. She and our son-in-law gave us two grandchildren, as did our son and daughter-in-law. We derive great joy from our four grandchildren, who make us extremely proud. We lost our beloved daughter in 2003 and miss her terribly.

Marcia served as president of Hadassah, Hollis Hills chapter, and is now on the board. I became a criminal defense attorney and retired in 2011. I also became a licensed pilot, a certified scuba diver and nationally ranked handball player.

Marcia and Bob Sparrow on their wedding day, April 14, 1957.

We celebrated our 58th anniversary, and my 80th birthday, with our family earlier this month. Life presents many unexpected twists and turns. Through it all, our love, perseverance and interdependence have endured -- and our bond and love are stronger than ever.