As I walked across the campus from the Student Union toward Old Main in May, 1967, I found myself following a vision of beauty. As she turned around to look at something — certainly not me — I melted.
From that moment on I was in love with the woman who would become my soul mate for 30 years. Roberta Bell (‘73, B.S., secondary education, Asian history), a transfer student from Nassau Community College, was wearing her trademark blue cut-off jeans and long sleeve white dress shirt. I found myself melting whenever I saw her on campus. Being the shy type there was no way for me to just say, "Hello."
My first chance arrived with an introduction by mutual friend Glenn Rodgers. The introduction occurred as I pledged Topper's Fraternity. Our pledge master was Mark Steinhoff. He, Roberta and I were taking a class in Sub-Sahara Africa 1865 to the present. Our first formal date was (with my high school friend and New Paltz roommate Jay Johnson and his date) to the Woodstock Summer Playhouse to see Oklahoma.
Steve and Roberta PerellDuring the winter of 1967 Roberta and I attended a performance by Miriam Makeba in the Old Main auditorium. At the end of the concert an elderly couple slowly walked up the aisle past our seats. I turned to Roberta and said, "Well, Mabel, we've been going out for 50 years now, how about getting married?" She said, "yes," in a way that I knew she was not, "just foolin'around." Sitting there stunned, she said I could think about it. I did, for about four seconds.
The wedding was planned for August 25, 1968 with Jay Johnson '68 as our best man and Claudia Waruch '69 our maid of honor. Both are good friends to this day. After some unprintable turmoil we were married twice on the same day at St. Dennis RC Church in Hopewell Junction and the Kingston Reformed Synagogue. Guess what the family concern was? Anyway, the reception was at the Dutchess Manor in Beacon, NY. We drove about 150 miles that day — with no air conditioning — and it was 98 degrees and humid.
After our "hippie" period of 16 years which took us to Africa and Europe we decided to have a child before the "clock ran out." Colin is 14 years old and the joy of our life. Sometimes a challenge, but a joy no-less. We have, as a family, chaperoned students to Europe, including Russia and Belarus, on numerous occasions and host exchange teachers regularly.
We live in a wonderful house and community overlooking the Hudson with Roberta's 92- year-old mother. We enjoy the theatre, travel, family and friends. Roberta has been a family worker for Big Brothers/Big Sisters of Newburgh and Head Start of Rockland (Spring Valley) for 25 years. I have been a social studies teacher at Pomona Junior High School and Ramapo High School for 31 years, the last 10 as chairperson of the department. As reported in the fall 1998 issue of the Observer, I was honored by the New York State Council for Social Studies as a Distinguished Social Studies Educator for New York state in 1997.
We visit New Paltz often and Mohonk, along with Cape Cod, is one of our favorite places in the world.