Retirement can lead to a stressful period of adjustment for some couples but for Ken and Diana Goldstein it was a time of rediscovery and reawakening.
Ken and Diana Goldstein
Ken Goldstein was raised in Brooklyn and began attending NYU, expecting to graduate in 1965. But a year and a half later, his family started having financial problems, so in 1963 he left school and went into the insurance business. Diana Kronish, born in the Bronx and raised in Brooklyn, began working for a brokerage firm in Manhattan after graduating from high school.
"That’s where we met," Ken says. "She’d type things for me, and we’d end up talking."
"I remember going home to my mother," Diana says, "and telling her I’d just met the man I was going to marry."
"It was an instant attraction," Ken adds.
The couple began dating, but then, with the war in Vietnam heating up, Ken opted to join the Army Reserve. "I was gone for four or five months training," he recalls. "I realized I didn’t like being separated from Diana. So when I came back, I asked her to marry me." Happily, she agreed.
"Things were tough for us at first," Ken admits. "We didn’t have a honeymoon. We got married on a weekend and both went right back to work that Monday. We ended up living in a tiny apartment in Brooklyn and had no money."
But when he began working for AIG as an underwriter, his career began to take off. The couple moved to Boston in 1969, then spent three years in Los Angeles. Then it was back to Boston, followed by another stint in New York, when the Goldsteins settled in Glen Rock. When Ken left AIG, it was to work for a firm that was eventually bought by the St. Paul Insurance Companies. The Goldsteins found themselves living in Minneapolis. By then they had two children, daughter Keri, who’d been born in California, and son Daniel, who was born in New Jersey.
"The Midwest was where they both really grew up," Ken says. "We really enjoyed the slower pace of life there. All the moving was a great experience for them. But I know it took a toll on my wife."
Once their children were older, Diana began working full time in retail sales. But she still found it difficult to put down roots or feel connected. After another assignment that took the family to Kansas where Ken became a company president he decided to retire at 55. "I told Diana she could choose where we would live."
"I had a kind of golden memory of New Jersey," she says, "so we moved to Oakland." She grins ruefully. "I did learn that you can’t recapture the old days, though."
Three years ago they got involved in their local temple, Beth Haverim, in Mahwah.
"I joined the social action committee," Ken says. "It’s been a rewarding experience for me." He also helped form an environmental group in the temple, and will soon be on the shul board. He is still on the board of a London-based insurance company that holds most meetings in Bermuda "Diana and I actually get to go there for business," he says with a smile.
Diana, who now works part time at Chico’s, is becoming more involved in the social action committee, and she and Ken recently completed a 16-week Judaism 101 course. The couple also visited Israel for the first time in February. "A remarkable experience," he says.
After their return to New Jersey, Ken went back to NYU and finally got his degree. "I was class of ‘005, instead of 1965," he says. "It just took 40 years to get there."
Their children have both returned to the Midwest, where they grew up Keri, who married her high school sweetheart and is the mother of two, lives in Minneapolis, while Daniel is going to graduate school at the University of Kansas.
Ken acknowledges that his career sometimes put a strain on their marriage. "I was away much of the time, and we had to persevere through a lot. But the last few years have been the best of our marriage. We’ve stuck it out during the hard times, and appreciated the good times. Tough times put it all in perspective. We’ve now gotten closer than we ever were."
"All that moving around was a rocky thing to get through," Diana adds. "But after Ken’s retirement, it was like a new beginning for us. We spend a lot a time together, and of course you mellow as you get older. We’re glad to have each other."