George and Phyllis Nashen

 

Two great Cote Saint-Lucers are celebrating amazing milestone birthdays. George was born in 1923 in Kishinev, Romania. Phyllis was born in 1928 in Cambridge, Massachusetts. Today, my father celebrates his 94th birthday and just three weeks ago my mom turned 89.
Their story is one of immigration and hard work, public and community service, romance, travel, family and friends.
My father, the grandson of a Hasidic Rabbi, and the son of revolutionary Russian arrived in Montreal before his first birthday. My mother was the daughter of trailer manufacturer in Sommerville, Mass. Dad graduated from Baron Byng High School in the famous class of 1939 (which recently celebrated its 77th reunion). His studies in accounting were interrupted by the outbreak of WWII.   Mom studied journalism at Boston University.

Sergeant George Nashen, Royal Canadian Air Force, 1944

 

My dad enlisted in the Royal Canadian Air Force and spent the next three-and-a-half years deployed overseas, mostly stationed in London, England. He had hoped to be a pilot, but colour-blindness changed those plans and instead he worked in the Payroll division of the General Accounting Office, headquartered in Harrods of London. Instead of serving as a pilot, he paid them every two weeks. He endured the bombardments and hardship of everyday life in London but fortunately was safe relative to so many of his close buddies who never returned from the front lines.

Teenager Phyllis Schertzer in the 1930s on her father’s car

 

On a ‘boys weekend’ to Cape Cod in 1948 my dad’s luck ran out – or did it? – as his car broke down stranding him for a couple of days in Boston. All alone, he reached for the crumpled phone number of a girl his father had pressed into his hand back in Montreal, courtesy of a family friend who happened to be the girl’s uncle. Not knowing anyone and with nothing to do, dad made the call and so began an international romance. They were married in 1951 and have celebrated 65 wedding anniversaries together, so far.
After returning from his military service he began working for Richter and Usher Accountants. He joined his uncle in business and became an important manufacturer of shirts and jeans for more than 35 years. My father set up his factory in Saint Leonard D’Aston, between Drummondville and Trois-Rivieres, employing more than 200 employees, over 10% of the town. Nearly every family in the area was touched by his business operations and this community of hard workers “outfitted Canada” for many years.

Phyllis Schertzer and George Nashen, Wedding Day, September 15, 1951. Chateau Garod, Brookline, Mass.

In addition to running a very active household with five rambunctious men (four boys plus dad), Mom trained as a “social councillor” and volunteered for 12 years at Meadowbrook  Elementary School in Lachine, helping kids 9-14 years old, visiting them at home and meeting with their parents. For the last 30 years mom has purchased and wrapped her own Christmas gifts for girls and boys at the Shriner’s Hospital. An accomplished artist in watercolours, oils, stained glass, sculpting and more for more than 40 years, my mother has exhibited her works and even taught courses for more than 10 years as a volunteer at Golden Age (Cummings Centre for Jewish Seniors).

Phyllis and George Nashen, September 15, 1951

Phyllis and George have made their home in CSL for nearly 60 years, raising their four sons and watching all eight grandchildren flourish close-by.
Active until most recently in many sports, and still very busy with leisure, arts and community life they are well known and very much liked by those whom they meet casually and on a regular basis.

Phyllis 85 and George 90

My mother and father were very fortunate to have visited over 40 countries and enjoy wonderful memories of travel and meeting people all around the world. They have spent most of the last 28 winters in Florida and until last year my dad was still busy golfing and bowling and not long before that playing tennis. They both continue to attend courses, play bridge and enjoy many regular social activities. My dad is proud of his membership in the CSL Men’s Club, the camaraderie of his many friends, and his regular spot up at the microphone during question period.
Not too many get to celebrate such milestone birthdays in pretty good health surrounded by so many members of their family, close friends and good neighbours. My parents are a very loving and lucky couple to enjoy such richness and happiness. Please join me in wishing these two extra special people very happy, and healthy birthdays! To 120!!
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