It Takes Two
Sometimes one isn’t enough. And in this case, two is perfect. Meet these wonderful couples who share their stories of wedded bliss.
Mr. and Mrs. William and Denise Meyer
By Amy Lynne Hayes
Photography by Jason Nuttle
Call it a “sliding doors” moment. He enters the building as she presses her floor in the elevator. She gets called away by a colleague as he strides down the hall. The two worked in the same building, parked four spaces apart, and even lived on the same street. It was a collection of missed opportunities for an introduction, until one Christmas Eve party. “I had been on a date with his friend the night before, “ Denise explained, “and I had no idea why he hadn’t called.” As it turned out, Bill had contacted this friend and made his own interest known. The friend graciously stepped aside.
Today, 34 years after meeting that Christmas Eve, Mr. and Mrs. Bill and Denise Meyer have built their life in Palm Beach County, quite literally. As chairman of Meyer Jabara Hotels, the properties included within Bill’s portfolio are numerous. Real estate is in his blood, having also developed a list of large-scale projects across the South Florida region.
Denise is not one to sit idly by. She is a successful businesswoman as owner and president of The Specialty Shoppe, working in advertising specialties for the last 30 years. She shares with Bill a passion for building and developing that has been carried over into her personal projects. One such endeavor closest to her heart is the purchase and complete renovation of a landmarked 1930s property. It took three years to update the house, which has been the much-loved family home now for over a decade.
Together, the pair plays an active role within the Jewish community. They are founding members of the Temple Judea. Bill is a member of the Executive Committee of the Meyer Jewish Academy, named after Bill’s father. Denise was responsible for the interior design of the Military Trail location, and the floor plans of the state of the art, 70,000-square-foot building on Hood Road, scheduled to open in June.
This spirit of nurturing the next generation manifests in the couple’s many interests. One of Bill’s most prominent roles, from a local perspective, is first as chairman and now treasurer of the Kravis Center for the Performing Arts. He is extremely proud of the legacy the Kravis Center is creating, both in offering world-class entertainment but also in providing inspiration to the area’s youth. The center spends $1 million per year for educational purposes, producing shows and providing transportation for schools in need. “Every child remembers their first experience there,” Bill smiles.
The list of their combined successes is impressive. Together, Bill and Denise have left and continue to leave an indelible mark on the community. But their greatest achievement, in their own opinion, is their two children. Their son and daughter have learned a strong work ethic and compassion for those from different circumstances. Core family values hold precedence over all other considerations. And that perhaps is the best legacy of all.
Mr. and Mrs. Chris & Sandy Colter
By Jennifer Tormo
Photo courtesy of the Colter family
Sandy and Chris Colter have been through a lot. More than some people will ever go through. But chatting with them, you might not know it. They laugh and smile so easily. But they are not afraid to cry either, or openly share a story others might find too traumatic to discuss. Because in the end, the Colters believe that it all happened for a reason.
That reason is their 4-month-old baby boy, Bryce. Sandy believed she wouldn’t be able to have children, so it came as a surprise to her when she found out she was pregnant. But when the Colters went in for a 12-week-check-up, the doctor went quiet. The news he shared was something they never could have braced themselves for: Their child had an extra chromosome and probably wouldn’t come to term. Sandy was given the option to terminate the pregnancy. “Most parents take it as a death sentence,” Sandy says.
But she just couldn’t do that. She held on longer, but by 16 weeks her baby’s heartbeat was gone, and at 17 weeks, just before Thanksgiving 2012, Sandy delivered her baby’s body. The Colters named him Malachi – “our angel; our messenger.”
The Colters spent the holidays in a fog of grief. After the new year, they went on a cruise to clear their minds, regroup and heal. When they returned to their home in Port St. Lucie, they had a wonderful surprise waiting for them – Sandy was pregnant once again.
This time the pregnancy was normal. The delivery at Lawnwood Regional Medical Center even went so smoothly that the midwife said it was one of her top three easiest deliveries, ever – and she’d practiced deliveries for 20 years. Bryce Colter was born a healthy baby boy.
Everything was fine. Until it wasn’t.
The day after his birth, Bryce stopped breathing. He turned blue. Doctors rushed him into the NICU. He’d suffered a brain hemorrhage and stroke. The doctors were having trouble keeping his breathing under control. About every hour, he’d stop breathing. The newborn could have brain damage, and worse, might not even make it through the night. The Colters couldn’t hold or comfort their new baby. Instead, they could only hover over his little body, which was wrapped in tubes.
“The books you read and advice you get from other people – nobody ever prepares you for a baby going into the NICU,” Chris says.
Eventually, Bryce was transferred to a level-three NICU at Miami Children’s Hospital, where he finally began to make a rapid recovery. Today, he is home with the Colters, doing much better. Though they may not know the full extent of damage caused by his stroke – or even what caused the stroke – until Bryce is older, the Colters are confident he is healing well.
“Even though we have to give him seizure medication and hook him up to a monitor at night, he’s so strong. He inspires us. He’s a very happy baby,” Sandy says.
The Colters credit their strong faith in God for getting them through difficult times, and of course the strength they find in each other. Sandy and Chris are a team in every way – they own a photography business together, Artigraphs Photography, and run a personal blog, “He Said She Said.” Long before they married eight years ago, they were best friends. That friendship slowly grew into something more. Their strong relationship prepared them to face any obstacle – even the unthinkable.
“Chris has been a rock. It has worked out that when one of us is weak the other one is stronger. ... I can’t imagine having anybody else as my husband, much less the father of my child. And now I’m going to cry,” Sandy says, finally getting emotional after having shared so much.
No matter what, the Colters know they have each other.
Mr. and Mrs. Drew and Amy Rothermel
By Amy Lynne Hayes
Photo courtesy of the Rothermel family
She’s carrying on her grandparents’ legacy. He plays an integral role. The two first crossed paths in 2005, in the usual manner of colleagues whose interactions never strayed from a professional context. They were both involved in the business of addiction treatment. Amy is the granddaughter of Jack and Mary Jane Hanley, founders of the Hanley Center in West Palm Beach. Drew worked for the Caron Foundation, another organization dedicated to recovery. Today, they have merged forces, both professionally and personally, in a dynamic relationship solidified by a mutual interest in the greater good.
The pair was married in 2009. The merger between the Caron Foundation and the Hanley Center in 2012 provided the perfect scenario for the two. Drew now serves as the president and successor, and the facility has continued Hanley Center’s 28-year tradition of being within the family. Amy was able to come on board and play a more active role in the business her grandparents founded. That is, until recently.
The Rothermel family splits their time between Pennsylvania and South Florida. Drew commutes as often as twice a month to oversee the Florida locations. Amy travels as well, although near the end of 2013 she was staying put. The couple was renovating their Pennsylvania home, as well as preparing for an addition. They welcomed their first child on Dec. 23 – a baby boy. By happy coincidence, Amy’s best friend in South Florida was also due around the same time. Their two children could be as little as 10 days apart in age. Drew has two children from a previous marriage, rounding out a very happy family of five.
To hear this couple’s interaction described is to know a storybook love story. Amy’s subtle, witty humor plays well off of Drew, and the two engage in an entertaining banter that exemplifies their union as a match well made. “Common interests and common value systems are key to successful relationships,” Drew explains. He and Amy are both cut from the same cloth. This compatibility manifests itself in both the private and public spheres.
The Caron Foundation treatment centers specialize in adolescents and young adults, while the Hanley Center is renowned for its efforts with their programs targeting older adults and the Baby Boomer generation. Combined, these two pioneers of addiction treatment offer patients multidisciplinary treatment plans targeted to the individual needs of each participant. With Drew at the helm, he and Amy are able to successfully continue the work her grandparents started – lending a helping hand to a community in need. And they are doing it together.
Mr. and Mrs. Paul and Lucille Targonski Jr.
By Amy Lynne Hayes
Photography by Jason Nuttle
They’re high school sweethearts. They rode the same bus each day in their Connecticut town. He sat near the back, she always in the front. She’d spied him in the large mirror the driver used to keep an eye on things. “I thought, ‘Hmm… very interesting,’” she remembers. He finally got up the nerve to ask one of her friends for her number. And from 15 years of age, the rest is history.
Lucille and Paul Targonski were married at age 19. He was in the Air Force; both graduated from Bullard-Havens Technical High School in Bridgeport, Conn. Two of their three sons were born while he was in the service. The second arrived in September, and Paul left the service that October. He took a position with helicopter company Sikorsky for $2.52 per hour. At least he was home. Lucille played the part of “domestic engineer,” taking care of the family while Paul worked and put himself through night school for engineering under the G.I. Bill.
Air space began to get too congested in the Northeast. Sikorsky decided to open an aircraft facility in West Palm Beach in 1977, sending engineers and mechanics down temporarily for several months at a time. By 1980 they decided to relocate workers permanently, and were looking for volunteers. Paul had been down to Florida as a temporary worker with the company, and asked Lucille if she would be willing to make the jump. Lucille’s family was mostly in the Northeast region, and coming from a close-knit Italian background the transition would require an adjustment. In the end, she supported her husband and followed him down south to Florida.
Paul worked for that helicopter company for 44 years. It took a triple bypass surgery in 2011 to convince him to retire. Both he and Lucille had similar operations that same year, only months apart. Lucille had a heart valve replaced on Feb. 17, the day after their wedding anniversary. Paul was having symptoms himself, but waited to be checked out so he could be there for Lucille. On May 4, he went in for his own heart surgery. They stood by each other’s sides throughout their recoveries and celebrated their 50th wedding anniversary on Feb. 16, 2013.
Paul enjoyed his work. Retirement was not on his agenda. But as he rested on recuperation leave after his surgery, he decided then it was time. He retired in July 2011, and the couple now has more time to devote to what they want. This often includes trips to visit their three sons, and their five grandchildren. They go back to Connecticut each Christmas, driving straight through the 22-hour trip by car. And though they split the driving, and enjoy the quality time spent with loved ones, they are always happy to return to the state they never realized they would live in forever. “We call it our ‘appreciation tour,’” Lucille smiles, “because we always appreciate coming back to Florida.” And it’s quite an idyllic life they have here too.