Wed 70 years, Rancho Bernardo couple believe in communication
By Elizabeth Marie Himchak
For 19-year-old Martin Fisher it was love at first sight. For 15-year-old Bette Goldstein, falling in love took about five dates.
Regardless of the pace their love blossomed, it has lasted a lifetime.
On Sunday, the Rancho Bernardo couple celebrated their 70th wedding anniversary with a luncheon at the Rancho Bernardo Inn, surrounded by relatives and friends. Officially, they reached the milestone on May 23.
“We’ve really had an enchanted life,” Bette Fisher said. “That’s how we got to 70 years … (living) under an enchanted star.”
Martin, a high school graduate contemplating joining the military, said he was playing basketball in Brooklyn, N.Y., when he spotted Bette walking home from school.
“I caught a glimpse and fell in love,” he said. “She was a pipsqueak, just 15 years old.”
From that day, Martin said he timed his basketball games across the street from Bette’s home to coincide with her daily route, but Bette was oblivious to him. After six months, he managed to speak to her for the first time and ask her out.
Bette said she agreed to the movie date “because he was a very interesting guy who still can tell a story. It sounded like a good idea.”
They dated for a year before Martin was drafted and assigned to a post in Biloxi, Miss., with the Army Air Corps. After continuing their relationship through letters — “we knew we were meant for each other,” Bette said — she visited him accompanied by her mother and Martin’s mother.
A few relatives soon followed to witness their May 23, 1942 wedding performed by a rabbi in the home of a Catholic woman who agreed to rent a room to Bette and watch over the teenage bride while the new groom was at the nearby post.
Martin called Bette his “birthday present” because they wed the day after he turned 22. She was a few weeks shy of 18.
“We’ve been watched over all these 70 years,” Bette said. “Kindly watched over from the very beautiful beginning.”
Part of their luck, they said, was Martin staying stateside during World War II because he was one of two propeller specialists selected from the first class of 20 to train others. They went from Mississippi to North Carolina and were almost separated when he was ordered to Utah. But right before he was to leave the war ended, so they went to Florida then returned to New York to be near relatives.
“Living down in the South was lovely, but we knew nobody, had no connections and no affiliations,” Bette said.
Martin said he bought a candy and soda stand in the Wall Street area, operating it for 10 years despite not intending to continue in that line of work forever.
Bette said she “rejoiced” when his lease was not renewed, which got him out of the business and into a career as a insurance adjustor. Martin thrived, became a partner and later vice president with another firm. Bette became a sculptor and very involved with the cerebral palsy society. They have a daughter, Ellen; son, David; and four grandsons.
After Martin retired, they visited a friend living in The Trails neighborhood of Rancho Bernardo. It did not take long for them to decide to sell their New York home and move to RB’s Seven Oaks neighborhood, where they have lived since 1988. They joined Ner Tamid Synagogue, where Martin became president. After the 2007 wildfires, he donated his insurance adjustment services.
“This is paradise,” Bette said, adding like most decisions they made during their marriage, they decided to move quickly. “We have done things by what felt right. We’ve been very spontaneous our whole lives.”
Martin, now 92, said the key to their long marriage has been their ability to communicate. “Luckily, we always spoke to each other and never ridiculed.”
Bette, now 88, said their marriage has “been based on respect. He has good judgment and know I do. Fortunately, we made good decisions for our lifestyle. Made them very quickly. The key is trusting each other and … devotion.” She added, “a consistent love and consistent devotion and consistent respect for one another. It is the essence of who we are.”
She said they are the “sages” in the family and their grandsons often seek their advice. Recently, one getting serious with his girlfriend asked Martin how he knew Bette was the one.
Martin said his answer was “I got a sudden feeling within me. That’s how you know it’s real. … Everything is different to you when you look at her.”
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