“Her eyes were what drew me to her,” says Jerry, 67. “Her eyes were her soul. She still has those eyes.”
Jerry remembers her cute dimples as well, as he recalls their first date at an Italian restaurant on Liberty Road in Randallstown in the spring of 1967.
The details also remain sketchy to Eileen, 65, but she does note Jerry’s sense of humor. She also recalls a Saturday night in early April 1968 when her father refused to allow Jerry to leave after bringing her home. He insisted Jerry spend the night to avoid the riots that were the result of Martin Luther King Jr.’s assassination and that were occurring not far from Jerry’s home in East Baltimore.
The couple became engaged soon after. Jerry asked Eileen a hypothetical question centering around “supposing we got married,” and Eileen answered, “I suppose so.” Then he asked her for real.
They were married on Nov. 3, 1968 at Beth Israel Congregation with Rabbi Seymour Essrog officiating. About 100 guests witnessed the Conservative ceremony, which featured Jerry dramatically dipping Eileen and planting a kiss on his bride.
They honeymooned in New York City for three days before returning home to attend another wedding. They settled in the West Glen Apartments in Woodlawn and bought their first house in Lochearn in 1972. They moved to Owings Mills in 1994.
Jerry spent much of his career in the credit and housing rental fields, and Eileen worked for Social Security. In 1992, they opened Acclaimed Promotional Specialties, which they operate jointly from home.
After 45 years of marriage, they agree what brought them the closest was Jerry’s need for a kidney transplant, which was successfully performed in May 2012. Eileen expedited the process by registering to donate a kidney of her own, which she did that August for a stranger (she wasn’t a match for Jerry).
They also reflect on their more than 10 years with Marriage Encounter, which gave them a chance to build their communication and help others as they became instructors.
Today, they share their home with their five rescued cats, and they enjoy their time with Paint and Powder, a theatrical organization that creates and hosts shows to raise funds for local charities. They are also involved in Kennedy Krieger Institute’s Festival of Trees each winter (Jerry is the Jewish Santa Claus), and they advocate for the University of Maryland Medical System (to help with transplant patients) as well as the Kidney Foundation of Maryland.
While working in promotional sales takes Jerry on the road each day, he starts off by having breakfast with his bride and finishes by dining with her.
Eileen always reminds Jerry to be careful and to “have a good day” as he departs through the garage. And, just like newlyweds, they always kiss goodnight.
Eileen & Jerry Chiat
First Date: Spring 1967, Italian restaurant
Wedding Date: Nov. 3, 1968
Venue: Beth Israel Congregation
Current Residence: Owings Mills
Favorite Activity: Watching Ravens games
Linda L. Esterson is an Owings Mills-based freelance writer. For “Beshert,” call 410-902-2305 or email Linda.Esterson@verizon.net.