Tom Block traveled with Bud and Enez Hart for three decades, enjoying Prague, New York, London, Paris, Rome, Edinburgh and Ontario. But a 2003 trip to the Southwest was the most memorable.
With a few other friends, they headed to a home at the top of a mountain. There, on the terrace overlooking the desert, Block and Susan Alexander got married.
The Harts were their witnesses -- and inspiration.
Edwin “Bud” Hart and Enez Blumm Hart celebrated their 76th wedding anniversary in December. He died on Jan. 30, at 98, and she died seven days later, at 97, both of old age.
They met on a blind date around the time when Mr. Hart was at the Wharton School of Business and Enez Blumm was studying at Syracuse University. They were married Dec. 13, 1942, in her mother’s New York apartment. Except for Mr. Hart’s service with the Army Air Corps in World War II, the two were rarely apart for long.
In the early 1950s, they and their two sons, Thomas and Jeffery, moved back to New Kensington, Penn., to join the family business. Mr. Hart worked as the manager and, eventually, owner of Hart’s Department Store. Once their children were old enough, Mrs. Hart joined him. She ran the sportsware department and after starting the bridal department, sold generations of brides their gowns. The couple traveled to New York City for buying trips, fitting in shows on Broadway.
Tom Hart never heard them argue or raise their voices. They talked things out, he said, and were each other’s best friends. Mr. Hart was in charge of some things. Mrs. Hart was in charge of others. They had confidence in each other’s abilities. Jeff Hart remembers lots of laughter.
In 1982, after the sale of the store, the Harts moved to St. Petersburg. Here, they put their energy into new passions: Petey and Rocky, their papillons, and St. Pete arts.
They volunteered as docents at the Museum of Fine Arts. They loved the Florida Orchestra. Mrs. Hart took classes at Dazzio Art Society, learned to paint and served on a civic arts board. And they volunteered at the American Stage Theatre Company.
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There, Mrs. Hart organized trips around the world as fundraisers, gathering supporters at her home before departing and visiting with them at breakfast each morning on their travels. Mr. Hart worked behind the scenes, volunteering as treasurer and helping with the financial arrangements.
“They always said she was the organizer, he was the worrier,” said Block, general manager at American Stage.
Those trips raised well over $1 million for the theater. Its performance space is now named after the Harts.
As they got older, the Harts mostly ignored each other’s irritating habits, Jeff Hart said. Mr. Hart turned the TV up louder and louder as his hearing faded. Mrs. Hart had a tendency of getting lost in crossword puzzles, including The New York Times, which she always did in ink. They doted on their dogs.
Petey, who outlived Rocky, died two days before Mr. Hart.
Tom Hart didn’t tell his parents, who were both fading. He kept Petey’s water bowl filled.
“They would have been heartbroken.”
He did tell his mother that his father had died. He isn’t sure it registered. Somehow, though, he thinks she knew it was OK for her to go then, too.
Their example endures.
Block has never met anyone quite like the Harts. He and his wife strive to be like them.
When they have an argument, one of them will say to the other: “Remember Bud and Enez.”
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Senior news researcher Caryn Baird contributed to this report. Want to know more about the Harts? Head over to Instagram and @werememberthem and see how one of their sons will remember them. Know someone who has recently died whom we should write about? Send suggestions to Kristen Hare at firstname.lastname@example.org.