Editor’s note: This story was originally published in February 2017. Sadly, Myra Schloss passed away in July.
HIGHLAND PARK/NORTHBROOK – After undergoing a complicated hernia operation when he was 95, Mort Schloss started to receive hospice care.
He wasn’t expected to survive, but he kept fighting and recovered within just a few months.
Caregiver Gayle Lunardi said Mort was down to 95 pounds, and that to help him regain strength she encouraged him to eat and get out of bed. “The nurse told us he was one out of only two people to ever come out” of her hospice care, she said.
Mort’s wife, Myra Schloss, added, “The doctor didn’t want to do the surgery and I said what if it was your relative, so they did the surgery and he got through it.”
And that’s a good thing, right?
Myra replied, “On some days.”
That was two years ago, and soon Mort and Myra will celebrate their 75th wedding anniversary by …
“Doing nothing,” said Myra.
Myra is not the only one with a great sense of humor. When asked the secret of a successful marriage, Mort answered in two words, “Yes, dear.”
The longtime Highland Park residents built their family home in 1954 on the corner of Sheridan Road and Forest Avenue “near the horse trough,” and currently reside in Northbrook.
Daughter Debbie Schwartz said everyone at the Highland Park Sunset Foods knows her parents, as well as the staff at CVS on Clavey Road and the North Shore Shell on Skokie Valley Road. “When my parents go to the gas station they just pull up and don’t have to get out of the car,” she said.
Wait, who’s driving?
Gayle said Myra still has her license but is not an active driver, though she did drive about a month ago, while Gayle was in the back seat. Myra is 94.
Another joint activity involves going to Blue Orchid Salon and Spa on 2nd Street in Highland Park, where Myra has a regularly scheduled hair appointment. Mort said the stylists bring him cookies while he waits.
Mort knows a thing or two about waiting. When he first met Myra, “I thought she looked good and it was love at first sight,” he said.
Then Myra broke up with him.
Mort met Myra when her cousin fixed them up on a blind date. “Then we broke up, because I had a boyfriend who had just gone to Africa during World War II,” said Myra.
Mort said he never served in World War II as he had a dislocated shoulder. “My doctor said do you want me to fix your shoulder and then you could go into the war? So I waited until after the war.”
Shortly after the break-up Myra contracted pneumonia and her cousin told Mort to give Myra a call. After she recovered, he took her dancing, and he swept her off her feet — literally and figuratively.
“He was a good dancer,” said Myra.
Myra was an Abbott dancer at the Muriel Abbott School of dance. She began dancing for Muriel Abbott at the Chicago Palmer House when she was 15 and taught there until her first child was born.
When it came to the marriage proposal, Mort popped the question to another woman first.
“Mort went into my parents’ bedroom at 1 a.m. and asked my mother if she was putting out dill pickles next year and she said yes. Then he said I’d like to marry your daughter. My mother adored him,” said Myra.
Debbie said her dad had a ladies clothing store in Chicago and later opened a store in Elk Grove Village. When he retired he sold that business and started working at Fell Company in Highland Park. “Dad worked a few days a week for nine months out of the year and he and Mom would spend the winter in Florida. He worked at Fell’s for 13 years until he was 85.”
Did you leave when Fell Company went out of business?
“Yes, I turned off the last light,” he said.
Myra said they were friends with the Fells and their children grew up together. The Schloss’ have three children and six great-grandchildren. Though Debbie’s daughter lives in the area, everyone else moved away.
Myra and Mort continue to lead active lives, and they look years younger than their respective ages. Myra used to jog around the track at Highland Park High School, and she still walks at the park behind Northbrook Court. During winter months, she walks in their building’s parking garage. Both Mort and Myra were avid tennis players.
Before Thanksgiving, Myra fell and broke her pelvis, but she’s made a complete recovery. Debbie said she was in the hospital for a week and had rehab. “She walked twice a day every day to build herself up,” and she doesn’t even walk with a cane.
Debbie said her parents are very careful about what they eat and everything is portion controlled, though her mom still indulges in chocolate.
“My kids think they know all about us, but they don’t,” said Myra. “I have a glass of wine with dinner every night. It used to be scotch, but now it’s wine. I don’t feel like I’m 30, but I’m all right. Mort has his aches and pains too.”
The couple’s 75th anniversary celebration included dancing. “We love to dance and when she goes into my arms she just flows with me,” said Mort, who’s still got it.
Editor’s note: Sadly, Myra passed away some time after this story was first published on DNS.com in February 2017