A Nemesis Becomes A Wife: Grandfather Tells All

Jun 3, 2011

Back in the 1930s, Martin Levin went to college to become a teacher. That's where he met a classmate that he didn't like.

"There was a girl in the class that I was in who was the most obnoxious, most difficult, and most awful person I've ever met in my life," he recently told his granddaughters Zoe Crowe and Jennifer Goebel.

And the young woman even went out of her way to cause trouble for Levin.

"When I was put up as president of the student body, she created a groundswell against me, and I lost that job," he says. "And I hated her. So, I married her. That was the only way to get back at her."

His marriage, to his late wife Marcia, lasted 67 years.

After college, Levin worked in publishing for more than 30 years. And when he was 61, he went back to school to become a lawyer. He still practices law, at the New York firm Cowan, Liebowitz & Latman.

"What is the hardest thing you've ever done?" Crowe asks him.

"Deal with grief," Levin says. "That's hard for me. I had a relationship with my wife that was so complete, that we did everything together. And so, when she died, I found a big vacuum of time open."

Bringing a laugh from his granddaughters, he says, "I don't mind taking the dog for a walk — but that only takes about a half hour or so. Big problem is, everybody's given up on finding me a girlfriend."

"That is not what I heard," Goebel says.

Levin admits, "I have lots of ladies who are fun to be with."

For example, there's the "lovely lady" who lives down the street from him.

"I had an extra seat for the opera," he says. "And she very graciously came — and fell asleep right on my shoulder. And at intermission, she got up and looked around and said, 'Oh my God, I've been sleeping on your shoulder.'

"I said, 'That's alright, you're the first woman I've slept with in six years.'"

As he laughs about that story with his granddaughters, Levin says, "Listen, I've had a great life."

"You're still having a great life," Crowe says.

"Yeah, well I feel that every day I get up is a new learning experience for me," Levin says.

Audio produced for Morning Edition by Nadia Reiman. Recorded in partnership with WABE.

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