Herbert Roher of Port Jefferson Station talks about his marriage to Greta (Fagan).
I was raised in Flatbush, Brooklyn, during the Great Depression, the youngest of four children. My father was in the garment business.
Greta grew up nearby and was one of six children. Her parents owned and busily operated a women’s hat company so Greta was raised mostly by Marge Schreiner, a beloved governess and housekeeper. She was a masterful chef and accomplished seamstress who eventually designed and made Greta’s wedding dress.
I was in the top 10% of the 1946 graduating class at Brooklyn Technical High School. I served in the Army for a year and was honorably discharged in 1947
In preparation for joining my father’s business, I enrolled in New York University’s School of Commerce, Accounts and Finance (now Stern School of Business).
One afternoon while in the Student Service Organization office, a pretty young woman came romping in. She seemed to know everyone, mistook me for someone else and plopped into my lap. We were both surprised. That was Greta, always outgoing. It was the start of our friendship and soon-to-be love story. While dating we enjoyed going to movies, roller skating and swimming in Hotel St. George’s indoor pool in Brooklyn Heights.
We wanted to get married but had to wait until I graduated and found employment. Greta’s parents drove upstate to my parent’s summer home near Lake Mohegan to meet and size up the family their daughter was joining. The two fathers hit it off instantly. They were both dirt farmers back in Europe before immigrating to the United States and living the American dream, eventually owning their own businesses.
Unfortunately, Greta’s father died in July 1949. After high school, Greta became a steno typist and worked for the head of the National League for Nursing in Manhattan.
In 1949 I was named editor of the School of Commerce’s 50th anniversary yearbook. While busy with school and yearbook production, I spent little time at home getting to know my father on an adult basis. I regret that to this day. He died in June 1950. Greta and I postponed our wedding but finally tied the knot June 17, 1951, at Biltmore Ballroom in Brooklyn. We honeymooned in Atlantic City.
Greta and I moved to a Flatbush apartment, and I started working for Kinetix Instrument Co., an aircraft instrument manufacturer that eventually moved to Commack. Greta, our daughter Elyse and I followed them in 1956 to a home we bought in Commack. I attended The Cooper Union School of Engineering, commuting to Manhattan, and eventually received my engineering degree.
After six years at Kinetix, I was one of many laid off. I went on to work several jobs in the defense industry.
In 1958, our son, Harold, was born, and 10 years later our daughter Allison completed the family. I happily designed and built an addition to our home to accommodate our larger family.
Greta worked as a teacher’s aide in the Commack School District and became very involved in our synagogue, eventually becoming a trustee. I was active in the Boy Scouts with Harold. I also took the children skiing in Vermont, where they became experts. Greta didn’t take to skiing but always encouraged us to enjoy it.
We retired in the late 1990s. A luxury apartment in Port Jefferson Station is now our home, and we celebrated our 70th wedding anniversary last month. We have seven wonderful adult grandchildren.
I kiss Greta every night at bedtime and tell her how much I love her. We hold hands in bed, a sign of our enduring love.
— With Ann Donahue-Smukler
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