reed magazine logowinter2007

Love Stories

Laura and Sheldon:
Lost and Found

Who: Laura Leviton ’73, senior program officer for research and evaluation at the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation

Sheldon Hochheiser ’73, until recently, corporate historian at AT&T, an expert on the history of the telephone system in the U.S.

Where: Interviewed together on speaker-phone from their home in suburban Highland Park, New Jersey

 
Sheldon and Laura - wedding day

Their wedding day in 1999.

 
   

Laura and Sheldon were friendly at Reed, but not romantically involved. Laura did ask Sheldon out on a date once, but he had a girlfriend at the time, which Laura hadn’t realized. “I was clueless,” she says. “Neither of us had any people skills whatsoever.” Sheldon teasingly offers up this evidence to prove it: they were at his girlfriend’s house when Laura asked him out. “He said ‘no’ and I was mortified,” Laura remembers.

The two graduated in 1973, and didn’t see each other for 20 years. 

They both attended their 20th reunion in 1993. Laura was recently divorced. “The reunion,” she says, “was a revelation to me. I had been starved for intellectual companionship.” She and Sheldon became friends over that weekend and kept in touch by phone from then on.

Five years later, in 1998, they decided to meet in Portland and take a vacation together prior to attending their 25th reunion (Laura had recently recovered from breast cancer). They toured the Oregon Coast and wine region, went to Ashland for the Shakespeare festival, visited the Rogue River and Crater Lake.

“It was a magical vacation,” says Sheldon.

“We fell in love,” she says.

“Head over heels,” he says.

Just before taking the trip, Laura had her tarot cards read. “I’m a total scoffer,” she says, “but the cards told me that my long wait was over, that I would find my true love, and that fame and fortune would come my way.”

In short order, the couple were married, Laura was voted president of the American Evaluation Association, she published an article in the Journal of the American Medical Association, got her dream job at the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, and won two free trips on American Airlines—which they used for their honeymoon.

  Sheldon and Laura on vacation

Sheldon Hochheiser ’73 and Laura Leviton ’73 on vacation in New Orleans in 1998.

   

“I am never going to have my tarot cards read again,” she says, laughing.

Speaking about their rediscovery of each other so many years after graduating, Sheldon says, “It’s clear that going to Reed together was very important. Although it was a new relationship, we had a whole shared history—so much so, that ours didn’t come off as a new relationship to other people.”

Laura says, “There’s no question that our Reediness helped our relationship. We attach little importance to outward forms of achievement or sophistication. We look at the substance or content, rather than the form. Also, we have a very similar strange sense of humor. We’re both willing to tolerate the strangeness of the other.”

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