By Alicia Doyle

The Writer
Specializing in Good News
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Couple celebrates 75 years of wedded bliss

Photo by Jen Edney/Special to The Star: "My parents were married for 50 years, and Ray's parents married at least 50 years," Irma Ziff said. The couple appear in an earlier photo at right.

Monday, April 12, 2008
Ventura County Star

When Irma and Ray Ziff got married, gossip spread that it would never last.

The Ventura County couple have defied the odds, celebrating their 75th wedding anniversary by renewing their vows.

"We're soul mates," said Irma, 92. "I had never dated anyone before him; he didn't either."

Ray, 95, knew he wanted to spend the rest of his life with Irma the first time he saw her.

"She just looked like the kind of a gal I'd like to marry someday," he said.

As residents of University Village of Thousand Oaks, the couple celebrated their diamond wedding anniversary on March 28 at a ceremony with hundreds of fellow residents in attendance.

It wasn't the first time the Ziffs renewed their promise to stay together forever.

"On our 50th wedding anniversary we renewed our vows, and we've done it several times on cruises," Ray said. "We just keep the thing going."

The two met in 1929

Flash back to 1929, when the two first met in Los Angeles County.

Irma was 14 and Ray was 17 when Irma's family moved into the house across the street from the Ziff family in Altadena.

"When I was 17, I knew I wanted to marry her," recalled Ray, who was born in Sacramento. "She looked like a very attractive young lady. So we introduced ourselves and developed a very nice friendship over three years."

For their first date, Ray invited Irma to a high school play in nearby Pasadena.

"We were so young, neither of us had dated anyone else," recalled Irma, who was born in East Chicago, Ind.

They married in 1933, when Irma was 17 and Ray was 20, after relatives and friends said it would never last.

"That was just gossip among people because we were youngsters," Irma said.

The Ziffs spent their honeymoon in San Diego, where they visited the Agua Caliente race track in Tijuana, Mexico, and had a bit of good luck; their one bet — $2 to show — earned $2.10 when their horse came in.

Ever since they first exchanged vows, "there was never a time we wanted to give up on each other," Ray said. "We were always happy being together."

He recalls vividly what he said to Irma the night before their wedding: "I said to my wife that from tomorrow forward, we will never be separated and we will be together all our lives. That has been true."

Only a hospital can separate them

The only time they were ever apart was when one or the other had to have a temporary stay in a hospital.

Otherwise, "we've been together every day and every night. We have never vacationed away from each other and never gone off by ourselves," Ray said. "That has always remained true."

They believe their conviction lies in the role models they had growing up.

"My parents were married for 50 years, and Ray's parents married at least 50 years," Irma said. The Ziffs' children, 71-year-old Ronald and 64-year-old Nicole Glazer, also have strong marriages.

"There are no divorces in our family, thank God," said Irma, a grandmother of four and great-grandmother of nine.

What's their secret?

"We both agree on two things that are very important: patience and compromise," Ray said.

Irma added that they speak to each other the way they want to be spoken to in return.

"In other words, don't snap at each other," she said, "and don't be afraid to say you're sorry."

During an argument, "never, never, never storm out and don't go to bed angry," Irma continued. "Kiss and make up before you go to bed."

She views marriage as a job, "and you've got to want to do your job right. You have to work at it, just as much as you do for anything else."

Before they both retired in 1989, they worked in the supermarket business for Westward Ho, a chain of six stores on the west side of Los Angeles that eventually was bought out by Whole Foods or Bristol Farms.

Looking back on so many years of happiness, the couple understand why some might be envious.

"They have good reason to be jealous," Ray said. "Not too many people have that long of a marriage or even survive long enough to have a marriage that long."


To hear this story on Alicia's radio segment, click:


After 75 years wed, some TV fame

Sunday, May 18, 2008

Ventura County Star

Ray and Irma Ziff, a Ventura County couple who recently celebrated 75 years of marriage, will appear Tuesday on "The Tonight Show with Jay Leno."

"We feel rather special about the whole event. We think it's going to be a lot of fun," said Ray, 95.

"We're just thrilled," added Irma, 92.

The self-proclaimed "soul mates" met in 1929. Irma was 14 and Ray was 17 when Irma's family moved into the house across the street from the Ziff family in Altadena.

Before retiring in 1989, they were in the supermarket business — Westward Ho, with six stores on the west side of Los Angeles that were bought out by Whole Foods or Bristol Farms.

Now residents of University Village of Thousand Oaks, the couple celebrated their diamond wedding anniversary at a ceremony with hundreds of fellow residents in attendance — an event highlighted in The Star that caught the eye of Leno's producers, Ray said.

"It's interesting how they happened to pick up the story about our anniversary," Ray continued. "From that they located us, and that's how the whole thing began."

On May 8, the couple spent a few hours at NBC doing a preliminary interview for the show, which also will feature guest star Sylvester Stallone.

"We'll probably be waiting in the greenroom together on the day of the show," said Ray.

During their pre-interview, the Ziffs had the chance to meet the host of the show.

"We were introduced to Jay and we took pictures together," Ray said.

"He's very tall," was Irma's first impression. "He's a very nice person."

A limousine from NBC will transport the couple to and from the Leno show on Tuesday afternoon, for the show to be aired that night.

"I presume we're going to be talking about the early days of our marriage," Ray said, "and how to live a healthy life up to the age that we are, and how to have a successful marriage."

Irma said she will drive home a point that she has always emphasized to those who ask.

"Never, never, never go to bed angry at each other. Always kiss and make up," she said. "Talk to your partner as you would have them talk to you. Sometimes you might snap at your partner, not even meaning it. Don't be too proud to say I'm sorry."

Though the tenure of their marriage is extremely rare, they aren't the only ones, Irma added.

"We saw someone on the air the other night who celebrated their 75th wedding anniversary," she said. "I don't want to pat ourselves on the back, but we look much younger."


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