Nancy and Ronnie Horowitz
By Deb Silverthorn
Nancy and Ronnie Horowitz have spent most of their lives co-starring in a story of commitment, care and connecting, and the happily-ever-after tale continues as they celebrate their 65-year anniversary on Sept. 30.
The two, whose parents had been friends and neighbors for most of their lives, got married in Nancy’s parents’ Jackson, Mississippi, living room. As children, they’d called each other’s parents “aunt and uncle,” but when Ronnie graduated from the University of Texas and returned home to begin work, the two realized they’d found each other and began dating and got married within just six months.
Ronnie is the son of Abe and Bess Horowitz and the brother of Jay, all of blessed memory, who all relocated to Dallas in 1956. Nancy is the daughter of Fannie and Harry Herman, of blessed memory, and sister of Hank Oxman and Shirley Romm Wender.
“I came home, asked her to the movies, and that was it,” said Ronnie. “I didn’t have a job yet, but we decided we’d battle life together and here we are.”
The Jewish community of Jackson then had only one synagogue, Beth Israel Congregation, which Ronnie says was in effect also the Jewish community center. “It’s where all relationships were made,” he said. The congregation’s Rabbi Perry E. Nussbaum, of blessed memory, later a well-known civil rights advocate, officiated at the wedding.
Before their first anniversary, the Horowitzes moved to Texas and their daughter Lynn was born. Daughter Helen, of blessed memory, and later, son Larry followed.
“Our parents always showed by example and with high expectations of our caring for others,” said Lynn. “Through the roller coaster of life, they remained dedicated to whatever they were involved with.”
Larry gives his parents credit for setting the example of an enduring marriage. “We all wish them only good health and happiness,” he said. “It’s incredible for them to have shared all they have in life.”
Ronnie, who began his career in retail, later started his own wholesale fabrics business, Southwest Textiles. After he sold his company to Pier 1 Imports, the Dallas Summer Musicals occupied much of the couple’s time. They both served on the executive committee for 16 years, he as board chair for four.
“We loved the theater and eventually we dug in deeper and brought an idea to the stage,” said Ronnie. That idea was “Dream Street,” produced through the couple’s Inwood Productions. The company also produced a revival of “Peter Pan,” with Sandy Duncan, on Broadway and “Groucho: A Life in Revue.” “Dream Street,” which debuted at the Las Vegas Dunes Hotel for two years, was named Show of the Year before hitting stages around the country.
The two enjoyed many years as members at the Columbian Club, where Ronnie would meet “the guys” for golf and she, “the gals,” to play mah jongg and have lunch. Ronnie became an avid SMU Mustangs fan, ultimately bringing his business acumen to players, acting as agent for future NFL players Rickey Bolden, Michael Carter and Bob Hayes.
The Horowitzes, through their support of time, energy and tzedakah, created lasting friendships including those of the Melnicks, the Staubachs and Olympian Steve Prefontaine.
Nancy, with her passion for volunteer work, held offices of the Dallas Chapter of Hadassah, Jewish Community Center’s Women’s Service Organization, the Women’s Division of the Jewish Federation of Greater Dallas, Temple Emanu-El’s sisterhood and more.
“I’ve wanted the most important lessons to be of honoring commitment and of the importance of community service,” said Nancy. “I’m proud of our family and how, even the youngest, understand and live those priorities.”
For the family, their primary cause over the last decade has been their devotion to the Be The Difference Foundation, co-founded by their daughter Helen, who died of ovarian cancer in 2014. The organization and its Wheel to Survive ride, this year to be held on Sept. 26, has raised more than $4.5 million.
“Helen fought so hard, for so long but she couldn’t survive,” said Ronnie. “Forever we’re dedicated to this, above all else. Nothing is more important.”
The couple have been members of Temple Emanu-El since 1956. They also helped found Temple Shalom.
“Sixty-five years of marriage is no small thing, but 65 years of marriage between Ronnie and Nancy Horowitz — six and a half decades of laughter, deep resilience, generations of family and great love — that is a blessing beyond counting,” said Rabbi David Stern of Temple Emanu-El. “What a joy to rejoice in their simcha, and for all of us to honor their example.”
The North Dallas home into which the couple moved into in 1971, in which they still reside, has laid the foundation for the Horowitz family tree. Today’s family includes Lynn’s husband Jeff Magid, their children A.J. (Zoe) Magid, Kelsey (David) Marcus and Kirby Magid; Helen’s husband Gary Gardner and their children Brent (Lacey) and Karis Gardner; and Larry’s partner Jimmy Colony. The newest branch of the tree includes the couple’s great-grandchildren Nate, Madi and Daphne Magid; Margot Helen Marcus, Cole Boisvert and Levi, Sloan and Liv Gardner.
“We all have much to learn from my grandparents; through thick and through thin they created an incredible life and family,” said grandson A.J. “They have always shared a vision, love of their friends and family and commitment to their community.”