For Fran Belman and Alan Surell, it was quick.
On Dec. 25, 1987, the two were introduced by an employee of Fran’s father, who also was a friend of Alan’s parents. The couple hit it off on their first date — Chinese food and a movie, “Broadcast News” — and by their second date, both were sure.
Their second meeting was actually at Dick and Cloe Belman’s house in Randallstown following a party for Fran’s grandfather. Alan met her parents, hung out and won her heart.
“That was it,” said Fran, 53. “I just knew he was the one.”
Alan, too, was convinced.
“I was at the stage in life that I was ready to settle down,” said Alan, 59.
In fact, both spent that New Year’s out of town — Alan in Vermont and Fran in Boston. Realizing they hated being apart, Alan came home a few days early.
After just three weeks together, they professed their love. In late February, Alan sat next to Fran and handed her a single rose. He looked into her eyes, told her he wanted to spend the rest of his life with her and asked her to marry him.
Fran picked out her ring the next week and plans were underway for a wedding. It was too soon for spring so they chose fall.
Rabbis Seymour Essrog and Donald Berlin were joined by Cantor Melvin Luterman, the Belmans, Howard and Marge Surell and about 250 guests at Temple Oheb Shalom in Pikesville on Oct. 29, 1988 for the nuptials.
After a two-week Hawaiian honeymoon, they settled in Alan’s Columbia townhouse before moving to a single-family home in Owings Mills. By their first anniversary, Fran was pregnant; Scott was born in May 1990. Jordan joined the family in February 1993, and Chandler followed in September 1995.
As the children grew, Alan coached their sports teams and even served as Little League president for three years.
Most Saturday nights, they hired a babysitter so they could enjoy date night.
Alan, an IT executive, traveled often for work, and Fran shuttled the children to Gymboree, play groups, Mommy and Me classes and various other activities.
The kids are all in college now, and the Surells live in Marietta, Ga., after Alan’s job transfer in 2010.
Today, they share their home with their three dogs and spend their date nights out at dinner and movies. They enjoy outdoor events such as festivals and craft shows, seemingly held weekly in the South, and also spend time at their second home in Myrtle Beach, S.C.
“I really can’t believe it’s been 25 years,” said Fran. “I would do it all again if I had the chance, and I wouldn’t change anything.”
Alan describes them as “two gears that mesh” and Fran adds that they complement each other and pick up the slack for each other.
Said Alan: “We’re just starting the next 25 years.”
Linda L. Esterson is an Owings Mills-based freelance writer. For “Beshert,” call 410-902-2305 or email [email protected].