Love Story: The Sheilas brought them together
Sid Witrock of St. James recounts how he met his wife, Barbara (nee Bunis).
I met Barbara on Nov. 10, 1956. At 24, I had recently served four years in the U.S. Air Force and was attending Columbia University College of Pharmacy, and I also worked at a local pharmacy. Barbara was 19 and majoring in math at The City College of New York. We both lived in the West Bronx. We both had sisters named Sheila, and they were best friends. One evening, they were talking on the phone and jokingly asked if we would like to talk to each other. After Barbara and I had a brief conversation, we agreed to meet. Barbara insisted on a double date with her best friend and told me to bring a friend.
On our first date we went to Leighton’s Woodlands Lake Restaurant in Westchester County. We had a table near the fireplace overlooking the lake. Barbara and I danced and talked over dinner; I was thinking this could be a serious relationship. After the restaurant, we drove to Kensico Reservoir and Silver Lake to see the full moon. It was a great night. Afterward, we dated on a regular basis. I looked forward to every Saturday, when Barbara usually met me at the pharmacy so we could drive up to Adventurers Inn in Yonkers for hot dogs or to go to a movie. By New Year's Eve 1956, we were going steady.
In April 1958 we were going to a Sunday matinee of "West Side Story" on Broadway. When I arrived at Barbara’s apartment, I asked her father for his blessing to marry his daughter, and he said yes. I went to her room with a ring and asked her to marry me. After the theater, we had dinner to celebrate. We were married June 28, 1959, at Elsmere Caterers in the Bronx with the two Sheilas as maids of honor. We honeymooned at Mount Airy Lodge in the Poconos.
Our first apartment was in the West Bronx. Barbara taught middle school math in upper Manhattan; I worked for a pharmaceutical company. In 1960 our son, Andrew, was born, and in 1963 we moved to Flushing, Queens, where our daughter, Randi, was born. In 1968 we moved to Stony Brook.
I worked as a supervising pharmacist until retiring in 1995. Barbara stayed home with the kids while attending Stony Brook University in the evenings, working toward her master's. She began substitute teaching at the Three Village School District, then took a position as director of remedial math in the William Floyd School District; she retired in 1998.
For years we volunteered as docents at the Long Island Museum; I also taught basic computer skills for SeniorNet, and Barbara was an ombudsman for the state Department of Aging in Suffolk County. In 2013 we moved to St. James.
Barbara is the most giving person I know. She is the first there if someone needs help or a listening ear. Our children and grandchildren tease us that we sometimes bicker, but I rather think of it as banter. Who better to “banter” with than my best friend for the past 60-plus years?
In June we celebrated our 63rd wedding anniversary with a dinner with our children, their great spouses, five fantastic grandchildren, wonderful grandson-in-law and a new great-granddaughter.
I’m so lucky our sisters were friends. In the 66 years I have known Barbara, our relationship has grown into a lasting love story. To paraphrase Charles Dickens, it's been the best of times; it's our "Tale of Two Sheilas."
— With Lynn Petry
TELL US ABOUT HOW YOU MET. Email LILife@newsday.com, telling us how you met, how you became a couple and sharing the details of what makes your life together special. Publication is not guaranteed. Photos cannot be returned and may be used in other publications affiliated with Newsday.
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