Couple nears 60th anniversary; discusses recipe for marital success

Allentown, Pennsylvania    Wednesday, March 4, 2020

No special day is needed to show love, say a Luther Crest couple who will celebrate 60 years of marriage in August.

“I feel we show love every day,” says Barbara Kreidler. She and her husband, Lee, were interviewed for Valentine’s Day this year, a story then postponed by the novel coronavirus pandemic.

There are, in fact, many keys to happiness, they say.

Lee sees compatibility as the secret to marital bliss, including a shared love of travel, playing cards and bicycling—in nice weather they regularly pedal across the Luther Crest campus near Allentown, Pennsylvania. They learned to play bocce ball during trips to Florida, which prompted them to promote the development of bocce courts at Luther Crest last year.

When Lee retired in 1998 as assistant superintendent of the nearby Parkland School District, a position he had held since 1975, he visited Israel. Although Barbara did not accompany him on that trip, the couple soon spent a month touring the U.S. by car, visiting such locales as Yellowstone National Park, Colorado, Oklahoma, Arkansas and Virginia.

Before the pandemic restricted travel, the Kreidlers enjoyed eating out and taking day trips, especially to Lancaster County, where they attended shows and soaked up the countryside. They also enjoyed bus trips with retired teachers.

How they became a couple reads a bit like a novel ...

Residents of Luther Crest since October 2016, they enjoy many of the senior living community’s activities. “The only negative is that [living in a cottage home], we don’t get into the apartments enough to get to know everybody,” Barbara says.

“Couples through time are often incompatible in many areas,” says Lee. Religious denomination, for example, can be a point of incompatibility. Barbara was a member of the Reformed Church and Lee was Lutheran.

In fact, Lee is the son of the late Rev. Earl Kreidler, who married the couple in his congregation at the time, St. John’s Lutheran, Slatington.

“Barbara always tells people that although she was Reformed at the time, she switched to Lutheran because we didn’t have to pay the minister for performing the service!” Lee says. Today, they are active members of Jordan Lutheran Church, Orefield.

Barbara says she believes it’s good to get things off your chest. “She used to get upset that I didn’t get upset,” Lee chuckles. “I don’t use the word worry—concern, yes—but not worry. My philosophy is that life is so short, you don’t want to waste time worrying, be upset or stressed,” he adds. “Worry is negative, and concern is positive.”

The couple concur that they are best friends. “But we also like things independently, which is healthy,” Barbara shares.

She has chaired the Kentucky Derby Affair at Luther Crest, serves on the Benevolent Care Committee, enjoys swimming with friends and has volunteered part-time in the Luther Crest gift shop. “I also use the library here a lot; they have a lovely selection of books.” Moreover, she has participated in Parkland Pals, through which—in non-pandemic times—Luther Crest residents meet with children with learning challenges. Not long ago, this activity involved her dressing as a bison and explaining what she was.

Serving on the Luther Crest Bocce Committee, Lee also is very involved in his alma mater, Muhlenberg College, Allentown, from which four generations of Kreidlers have graduated or will graduate.

How the couple became a couple reads a bit like a novel.

“I was the Lutheran minister’s son and my best friend in high school was the Evangelical minister’s son. I was into athletics and academics; he was into athletics and girls,” Lee says. His friend was dating a girl—Barbara Hauser—who played basketball for Slatington’s rival, Palmerton High School. Lee accompanied him to the game and his friend pointed out “the pretty, tall girl with blond hair.” Barbara’s mother was also at the game.

“That’s the first time I saw my future wife and mother-in-law.”

Amazingly, Barbara’s cousin was a classmate and friend of Lee’s and he later invited Lee to the Hausers’ Palmerton home. “We’d go up and play pinochle and have chocolate cake with Barbara’s parents,” Lee says; Barbara adds that her parents liked having the boys around as they had no sons of their own.

The visits continued but Lee and Barbara were not connecting. She was not always at home and, sometimes, a date brought her home to see Lee and friends enjoying time with her parents.

One summer, however, Lee and another friend visited the Hausers. Barbara occasionally filled in on pinochle, so Lee went to the home at which she was babysitting to see how long she would be there and if she was available later to play cards.

“We sat on the porch and talked about everything,” Barbara recalls. After that, she thought, “I think I’m going to marry him. Until then, he had been a pest who played pinochle and ate chocolate cake. I don’t know why it changed.”

For Lee though, there was no spark. Not yet anyway.

“On another night we were playing pinochle and she drank out of my Coke glass. I thought, ‘Oh, that’s interesting,’” he recalls as Barbara grins watching him tell the story. After that, however, they began dating, having met in high school but not dating until Lee was a junior in college.

(Incidentally, the friend who accompanied Lee that fateful summer served as best man at their wedding and now lives four doors away at Luther Crest.)

Ironically, the couple briefly lived near each other as children. Lee was born in Bethlehem while his father was pastor of Christ Lutheran Church, Freemansburg. When Lee was eight years old, the family moved to Slatington when his father became pastor of St. John’s.

Barbara’s family lived in Slatington when she was born in the Palmerton Hospital. When she was in third grade, Barbara’s family moved to Palmerton because her World War II veteran father was employed by the Palmerton Post Office and was required to live in Palmerton. Although they never met until years later, Lee and Barbara lived two blocks from each other in Slatington for about six months.

Talk about serendipity.

The newlyweds made their home in Palmerton for 25 years, their daughter, Lori, was born there in 1963. The couple moved to Allentown in 1986 and lived in their home there for 30 years before relocating to Luther Crest.

After graduating from Muhlenberg, Lee returned to his alma mater, Slatington High School, to teach science from 1959 to 1969. The school was renamed Northern Lehigh High School in 1981 and Lee served as principal of Northern Lehigh Junior High School from 1969 to 1975, also serving as assistant high school principal from 1969 to 1972. In 1975, he was named the first assistant superintendent of the Parkland School District, spending 22 years with the district until his retirement.

After coaching basketball at Slatington High School for four years, Lee returned to school to earn a master’s degree at Lehigh University and his doctorate from Nova Southeastern University.

During Lee’s first seven years of teaching, he also worked as an insurance representative for the Lutheran Brotherhood Fraternal Insurance Society and, after retirement, worked seven years as a tour escort for the Trans-Bridge Bus Company.

Following graduation, Barbara was employed as an administrative assistant at the New Jersey Zinc Company, Palmerton, and subsequently as secretary for the owner of a local industry. When she was a stay-at-home-mom for Lori, she was active in Girl Scouts, the Palmerton Library, taught Sunday School and served on the board of Meals on Wheels. For many years, she enjoyed refinishing furniture and caning.

After the couple’s move to Allentown, Barbara worked at the Village West Mall for 12 years before retiring in 1998.

When the Kreidlers decided to downsize and begin a new phase of life, the couple chose Luther Crest. Because Lee’s uncle and aunt were among the first residents of Luther Crest, Lee and Barbara were very familiar with the community.

“We love it here,” Barbara says of their cottage-home—and Luther Crest in general. “Our life has been very rich, not necessarily in money, but in memories,” Barbara says.

And such memories are one more ingredient for a successful life.


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