Shearith weddings on same day built longtime bond
Photo: Michael Sudhalter
Harrell and Marilyn Pailet and Eileen and Aaron Kreisler marked their 60th anniversaries on June 30, 2023.

Pailets, Kreislers celebrate 60th anniversaries

By Michael Sudhalter

Harrell Pailet wasn’t surprised to receive a phone call from his longtime friend, Dr. Aaron Kreisler, in 1997.

But he was shocked and incredibly flattered by the question Kreisler asked him. “I needed encouragement about becoming a grandfather for the first time and Harrell offered it to me,” Kreisler said.

Pailet, a longtime business attorney, could not believe that an experienced pediatrician would ask him advice regarding children. “It was the highest compliment of my life to get this call,” Harrell said. Kreisler explained that it wasn’t unusual, since providing medical care and being a grandfather are two different things.

Kreisler recalled a time during his medical training at Case Western Reserve University in Ohio when Dr. Benjamin Spock approached the 20-something residents. Instead of offering sage advice about newborns that day, he inquired about the best way to deal with his own rambunctious teenagers.

This phone call from 1997 was just one of many highlights in the longtime relationship between the Kreislers and Pailets. Each couple has four adult children. Eileen and Aaron Kreisler have 12 grandchildren and Harrell and Marilyn Pailet have eight.

The couples were married on the same day, June 30, 1963, in Dallas, and both celebrated 60 years of marriage recently.

If that weren’t enough of a coincidence, here are some more:

Both couples were married at Shearith Israel by Rabbi Hillel Silverman. Zella Sobel (catering) and Marty Schwartz (florist) were part of both weddings. They even shared the same chuppah.

Despite both being involved in the Dallas Jewish community at the time, Marilyn Pailet and Eileen Kreisler did not know each other.

The Kreislers booked their wedding at Shearith Israel for the evening of June 30, 1963.

“June brides were the thing and June 30 was our final opportunity,” Marilyn said. “The date was already taken, so we didn’t know what to do.”

After thoughtful consideration, it was determined that the color schemes and the bridesmaid dresses were similar enough that the Pailets could exchange their vows, and have a reception, at noon, followed by the Kreislers’ wedding at 6 p.m.

Both families would return to Dallas to begin careers and raise families, but not right away.

Early days

Both couples met their significant others at fraternity parties in the late 1950s or early 1960s. The Kreislers met at The University of Texas at Austin and the Pailets at Tulane University in New Orleans.

The Kreislers had only a week to take a honeymoon before they returned to Aaron’s hometown of Galveston, where he had already begun medical school. On the way to their honeymoon in New Orleans, their new car broke down in Mineola, Texas — 85 miles east of Dallas. By the time the car was ready to drive again, they had to forgo their original honeymoon plans for Hot Springs, Arkansas.

The Pailets visited Las Vegas and Los Angeles on their honeymoon before quickly returning to New Orleans, where Harrell was completing law school at Tulane.

It was the Vietnam War era and both men became Army officers — Harrell in Germany and Aaron stateside in Georgia and Kansas.

Harrell, who still has a distinctive New Orleans accent, was adamant about returning to his hometown of New Orleans once he completed law school. He studied for and passed the Louisiana Bar, only to find that opportunities for attorneys were scarce in the Crescent City.

Marilyn was already resigned to the fact the family would settle in New Orleans, so she was elated when Harrell said they’d move to Dallas — where her family owned Sterling Jewelers.

In 1966, the Pailets returned to Dallas, where Harrell passed the Texas Bar and Marilyn worked for Sterling. Harrell still practices law from the couple’s Dallas condominium.

The Kreislers returned to Dallas in 1971. Aaron said their ketubah declared if they couldn’t decide on a location to settle, Dallas would be the default.

Reconnecting in Dallas

The couples remembered each other, from their wedding day, when they reconnected through a Chavurah group at Shearith Israel in the early 1970s.

“We’ve had a lot of good times together,” Eileen said.

Aaron, who worked as a pediatrician in Dallas from 1971 to 2013, was the pediatrician for the Pailets’ four sons.

“One of my sons called him Mr. Kreisler, and I corrected him and said it’s ‘Dr. Kreisler’,” Harrell said. “My son said, ‘Oh, I know him really well, so I can call him ‘Mr. Kreisler.’”

The couples have traveled to New York and California together, and even on a London-to-St. Petersburg cruise to explore Jewish sites in Russia’s second largest city.

Both Marilyn and Eileen served as president of the same B’nai B’rith chapter at different times and have been part of the same mah jongg group for nearly 50 years.

Their children and grandchildren have been friends over the years and at one point they were hopeful they might become in-laws.

Marilyn briefly worked as an educator before being employed with Sterling. She earned a real estate license in 1993 and still works as a realtor for Ebby Halliday in Dallas. In fact, she worked with the Kreislers to sell their longtime home and helped them purchase their current one.

Eileen taught special education in Dallas and later as an administrator for Temple Emanu-El, where she later started a special education program. Eileen earned a Master’s of Education degree from Texas Woman’s University.

Secret to longevity

The couples both agreed that commitment to family is one of the main reasons for their longevity.

Eileen said she sends a group text to her children — three of whom live in Dallas — and grandchildren, inviting them to Shabbat dinner at the Kreislers’ home. She said it doesn’t happen every week but the family gets together often enough to continue their strong bond.

“Being led by strong women and being family-oriented is the key to longevity,” Aaron said. “Eileen and I are involved in same things and have the same values.”

Harrell agreed. He saw an early sign that Marilyn was the one.

“I noticed that my mother and two brothers really liked Marilyn,” Harrell said. “I definitely married up. And I really liked her family. It was very nice to see my kids with my in-laws. If everyone had in-laws like I did, there would be no in-law jokes.”

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