The Levy's 50th - made to last
Beverley Levy was only 10 years old when she first met the man she would go on to marry. In January this year, she and her husband Earl celebrated their 50th wedding anniversary another milestone in their well decorated journey together.
The Levys' love story started in what, for many would seem like a lifetime ago. Beverley, a bright-eyed, thoughtful young girl had just relocated from her home in Spaldings, Clarendon to Kingston with her parents, Percy and Lucille Junor. She started attending St Andrew High School for Girls where she made a friend who shared her first name. That Beverley had an older brother named Earl.
"I would go visit her, and he (Earl) was substantially older than me. I would pay no attention to him," Beverley told The Gleaner recently. "When we started going to teenage parties, my parents would allow us to go if he was going. What they didn't know is that as soon as we got to the party he would disappear and when he was ready he would stand in the middle of the dance floor and summon us." She chuckled at the memory.
Years passed by with Beverley and Earl making romantic connections with others even as they retained a constant presence in each others lives. Beverley eventually left the country to attend college overseas. When she returned to the island, she met and married her first husband. Earl was also engaged at that time. As fate would have it, Beverley's marriage did not last, and Earl's engagement also broke up. After that, as Beverley put it, the romantic connection between her and Earl, "just evolved."
Making the right choice
Earl must have considered himself quite fortunate that things evolved this way, as Beverly was certainly not suffering from a shortage of suitors. As an avid traveller, Beverley captured the fancy of many persons who were eager to marry her. She received marriage proposals out of Spain and England. One eager fellow proposed via cable and even prepaid for her response. "I never replied," said Beverley.
"You have to know the person very well,' she explained of the decision to marry.
Looking back at 50 years of happy marriage, Beverley considered the ingredients that crafted their romantic success.
"Distance," she said. "What kept us is we always had separation. He would be in the country designing and building houses in Montego Bay and Port Antonio. I travelled a lot. I had a son who was studying abroad so I started to travel a lot for him. We always did our own thing. And when my father died, I had to take over his business for seven years. You don't get on each other's nerves," she said. "For me, it worked, and it worked for my husband. I'm an only child, so I enjoy my own company; I like my own space. A little space is a good thing."
It would be hard to challenge the couple when it comes to marriage tips. Fifty years in to their marriage, they continue to hold each other in the highest regard.
OUTSIDE THE BOX
" The most wonderful thing about my husband is I respect him and he's very talented and very fair," said Beverley. "He's very eclectic in his thought. He thinks outside the box. He has taught me how to read a site plan, and that when you walk into a room, look up. He has taught me a lot."
The affable Earl was equally complimentary of his wife. "She is a very strong person and she likes to be in control all the time. I let her. to a point. I put my foot down and she realises immediately. I've never raised my hand to her and never used a bad word in our home." He shared with The Gleaner that on his wedding day his father-in-law told him, "You did good business over the week and made some good deals. You have done the best deal of your life today." And he was right.
At the time of The Gleaner's meeting with Earl, Beverly was on a brief trip overseas. "I've very miserable now that she has left me all alone. I miss her terribly," he said.
The Levys in January celebrated their 50th anniversary with a beautiful Chinese themed event at the Sunken Gardens at Hope Gardens in St Andrew.
"I didn't want a regular cocktail party. January 28 was not only my anniversary but the Chinese New Year," said Beverley, of her theme choice
There was Chinese food, and decorations as Francis Mais transformed the venue into a wonderland of lights and tastefully decorated tables and tents.
In celebration of the good fortune the two have had in finding each other, they decided to invite guests to make donations to either the Percy Junor Hospital, or the Jamaica Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, in lieu of gifts.
Their guests responded in a big way. "People were so generous! I was overwhelmed. It was unbelievable," said Beverley.
"My 50th anniversary was definitely a milestone."