Ruth and Larry Shifman: North Hempstead’s oldest love story

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Ruth and Larry Shifman: North Hempstead’s oldest love story
Ruth and Larry Shifman were honored as the longest married couple in the Town of North Hempstead for the past six years. Larry died this August. (Photo courtesy of Ruth Shifman)

As soon as Ruth Shifman walked into her friend’s house party on Valentine’s day 75 years ago, she caught the attention of her her soon-to-be husband, Larry Shifman.

“He came over immediately,” Ruth said. “It was love at first sight. He loved me the minute he saw me and he didn’t know anything about me.”

Larry took Ruth home that night, and the two continued to see each other the next few weeks, Ruth said.

Two weeks after they met, for Ruth’s birthday, Larry bought her a friendship ring.

A couple of weeks later, the friendship ring was upgraded for an engagement ring, Ruth said.

On June 7, 1942 – a little less than four months after the night they first met – the Shifmans were married.

Their 75-year long marriage surpassed financial worries and a world war, bringing three children, seven grand children and two great grand children into the world and lasting until this past August when Larry died in his sleep.

“We lived a lovely life, and my advice to everyone is you’ve got to love each other,” Ruth said. “If you don’t love each other then you’re not compatible for each other and it won’t last, but for us it lasted and lasted.” 

For 63 years the Shifmans lived in Nassau County, first in a house in Lake Success and later in a smaller home in New Hyde Park.

They were honored by the Town of North Hempstead as the longest married couple in the town for the last six years, Ruth said.

The couple faced their fair share of obstacles together, though.

Larry worked for a company making ships and planes for the military, Ruth said. About two months into their marriage, Ruth said her husband told her he wanted to go into business himself.

“I said, ‘We just got married, what are we going to do for money?'” Ruth said.

Ruth said her husband told her not to worry, and he bought a place and ran a foundry. All of a sudden, Ruth said, her husband had so much work the foundry was too small and he needed a larger one.

As Larry’s business was taking off, the war facing the Shifmans and the rest of the world was escalating, too.

About two years into their marriage, President Franklin D. Roosevelt ordered all men under 26 – even business owners like Larry – to go into the service, Ruth said.

Larry was shipped out to Pearl Harbor, leaving Ruth and their six-month-old son at home, she said.

When the war was over, Larry was shipped home within a week, Ruth said. Their son already two-years-old.

That’s around when the growing Shifman family moved from their small apartment to build a house in Lake Success, Ruth said.

Ruth and Larry saw a model and built their own – a house they lived in for 11 years.

“That was our life,” Ruth said.  “He lived a beautiful life, he was healthy and wonderful.”

Ruth said she misses her husband very much, but said she and her family are grateful for the years they spent with Larry.

“To keep on going, we were very compatible, never argued, never fighting,” Ruth said. “We only loved each other.”

Ruth said she and Larry went all over together. They’d go to nightclubs and sang and danced. They were also active members in the community, she said. 

She said her husband helped build the synagogue they joined 53 years ago, and went on to be the mens’ club president.

“I loved him, everyone loved him,” Ruth said. “My parents, anyone we met – he was a very very wonderful man and the most handsome.”

“Love, love, love is the key to success,” she said.

In addition to being honored by the town, Ruth said she and her husband were interviewed by Neil Cavuto on Fox 5 as the longest marriage in the town.

And though Ruth may not be honored this year by the town for her long-lasting marriage, she said February 14th is still her day.

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