The enduring love story of Morris and Dorys Silver is the stuff of the greatest romance novels and movies.
They met at the corner of Portage and Main in 1948 when he caught sight of her waiting for the bus. They married within months and were inseparable ever after.
He worked from home for many years so they could be together. When he worked outside the home, he drove across town to go home to have lunch with her. She joined him on road trips when he travelled for work.
They had three children, 10 grandchildren and 15 great-grandchildren. Married for almost 70 years, the couple died within four days of each other in February. Dorys died Feb. 7, not long after being diagnosed with dementia. Morris died Feb. 11, just short of his 94th birthday.
Their 70th wedding anniversary would have been May 17.
"They really were inseparable," said Tannis Mindell, 67, their eldest daughter and middle child. "My parents never called each other by their first names. Ever. He was ‘Honey’ and she was ‘Dear.’ In all my 67 years, I don’t remember my parents ever saying ‘Dorys’ and ‘Morris’ to each other. It was always ‘Honey’ and ‘Dear.’
Their son Les, 69, lives in the United States; youngest daughter Glenda, 61, and Tannis both live in Winnipeg.
"They had such sincere and true affection for one another, and respect," Tannis said. "To us, that was the environment we grew up in. Watching their relationship as a couple and in our family dynamic."
Dorys was just 19 years old that day in October 1948 at the windiest intersection in Canada when she was waiting for a bus and the young telegraph operator spotted her.
Morris, then 23, had served with the Canadian Army in the Second World War as a telegraph operator and when he returned home, got a job using those skills working for Canadian National/Canadian Pacific Telecommunications in an office near Portage and Main. Dorys was working as a medical receptionist in the nearby McIntyre Block at 416 Main St. (the building was demolished in 1979 and is now a parking lot).
It was the confluence of two lives at the famous intersection.
There’s a side story about how after that meeting, Morris called Dorys to ask her out on a date, but she thought he was someone else and said no. She later realized who he was and he asked her out again and "from there, true love," Tannis said.
They were engaged shortly after meeting and were married seven months later on May 17, 1949.
"There were life lessons there for all of us, with the respect that they had for each other. They always seemed to have a good time when they were together and the love, you could just see it and feel it in the room," Glenda said.
The family took a number of holidays together but the most special vacation might have been the last one in 1968. Les was 18, Tannis 16 and Glenda 10 when they and their parents piled into Les’s brown 1963 Pontiac Parisienne and hit the road.
"My brother got his first car and we decided we’re all going to California in my brother’s vehicle. Between my dad and my brother, we drove to Los Angeles and we had a family vacation. It was an amazing trip," Tannis said.
"I know my parents tried very hard to make sure we had as many experiences as possible as kids. I took ballet, Glenda took swimming, my brother took piano. Making sure we were well educated was one of their family values."
Morris worked for many years as a buyer for a toy company and once a year, he and Dorys would jet off to New York City for the annual toy show.
He started his own firm, M.L. Silver Agencies, in 1967, and worked as a manufacturers’ agent for toys and housewares. He worked out of a home office in their house on Bluebell Avenue in Garden City.
"Our basement was full of shelves of all the latest toys from the companies he represented. Our friends always wanted to come to our house because we had more toys than you could ever imagine," Tannis said.
"He also had those huge plush toys that were bigger than you were, so when we got invited to a birthday party, the gift was usually a big plush animal," Glenda said.
"I had the first Skipper (Barbie’s little sister, which came out in 1964) doll in Winnipeg," Tannis said, laughing.
She said when Morris represented Yo-Yo and a well-known champion was in town for a promotion, Morris invited him over for dinner and he performed tricks outside in front of their house for all the neighbourhood kids.
He closed his agency 30 years later and worked another 20 years for the Winnipeg Free Press as an award-winning salesman.
He retired at age 89.
Dorys was a stay-at-home mom in the early years. She opened an art gallery in the basement of their Bluebell Avenue home and went on to become a lecturer for Weight Watchers. When she was in her late 50s, she earned her real estate agent licence.
Morris was described by his family as loving, calm, gentle, humble and non-judgmental. He was "an uncomplicated man with simple tastes. He was soft-spoken, with a terrific deep, rich baritone voice." Dorys was an "affectionate, feisty and determined" lady who was "never afraid to share her opinion and was no stranger to offering constructive criticism."
With their grandchildren, they would host sleepovers, dinners and card games, and attend concerts and synagogue.
"The cookies they all talked about was her cinnamon-twist cookies and they’d compete to see who got the first batch," Glenda said.
About a year ago, Dorys’s health had declined to the point where she needed specialized care. She was moved to the Saul and Claribel Simkin Centre.
"When she moved to the personal care home, he visited her every single day and made sure she was well looked after," Glenda said. Morris moved in with Glenda and her family when Dorys moved to the Simkin Centre.
In a joint obituary, their children described the couple as having "lived their lives for each other and to be with each other. They were the perfect team. They travelled the world, played tennis, golf and bridge together, frequently attended the symphony and opera, and were regular attendees on Saturday mornings at Congregation Shaarey Zedek."
They renewed their vows in 2014 for their 65th wedding anniversary by recreating their wedding for family and friends.
"It is fitting that they move into the next world together," their obituary read.
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