When Susan Fedder met Herb Garten in June 1947, she was taken aback. He was bright and ahead of himself in his thinking, and he had a nice build and a wonderful personality.
But “nice Jewish girls didn’t go out with soldiers,” she recalled.
Herb, too, was impressed with the nice looking, charming Southern lady from Baltimore.
After dinner and dancing at the Summit Club, Herb tried to kiss Sue. But she turned away, joking today that she felt he was “an aggressive New Yorker.”
On their second date, while in the driveway at Suburban Country Club, someone drove into the side of Herb’s car. He took Sue to an emergency physician across the street, and when he took her home, he parked the car on the opposite side of the street so her parents would not see the damage. Instead of “balling him out,” Bess Fedder served him something to eat.
They saw each other weekends all summer, while Herb was stationed at Fort Meade for a seven-week advanced ROTC training program before he returned north for his senior year at Syracuse University. They professed their love early and took turns visiting each other.
Herb enrolled in law school in New York but transferred to the University of Maryland after one year to be near Sue. They decided to marry and did so on Dec. 25, 1949 at the Fedder home. Rabbi Samuel Rosenblatt officiated the Orthodox ceremony, witnessed by 70 friends and family members.
The young couple lived with her parents for five years, except for their summer at the University of Michigan, where Herb took law classes to accelerate his graduation prior to reporting for Army duty in January 1951. He was assigned to teach military justice to new recruits in Pennsylvania; Sue stayed in Baltimore.
In the meantime, Sue commuted to Towson State Teacher’s College (now Towson University) via three streetcars and a bus. She was set to graduate that spring but was unwelcome as her “pregnancy was unsightly.” She would finally graduate onstage in 2010 and was written about in the “Chronicle of Higher Education.”
Lynne was born in 1951 and Larry in 1952. Alan followed in 1955, and then came Ilene in 1960 and Maury in 1967. The large family sustained its ups and downs, including the loss of Lynne to congenital heart problems at 14, and Larry to cancer nine years ago.
After one year of military teaching, Herb returned to Baltimore and joined the family law firm, now Fedder & Garten Professional Association. At 85, he continues to work full time, alongside three of their children and one of their six grandchildren.
As Herb’s law career blossomed, so did Sue’s work in antique jewelry sales. After selling on consignment for years, she became the owner of Heirloom Jewels, which operated until her retirement eight years ago. She enjoyed buying trips and was featured on “Antique Road Show.”
As a family, they enjoyed vacations to Disney World and ski trips to Aspen, Colo.
Looking over at her husband of 65 years, Sue still calls him her sweetheart.
“We’ve been just very blessed,” said Sue, 84.