Rae and Jack Kootman celebrate 70th wedding anniversary


Rae and Jack Kootman celebrated their 70th wedding anniversary on June 24.  They celebrated with their children Dr. Richard and Gale Lourie, Brett and Susan Williams, Steven Kootman and Ron Bray and Scott Kootman and James Wagner, as well as with their grandchildren Michael and Simcha Lourie, Matthew and Robin Lourie, Adam and Kate Lourie, Jason Williams, Stephanie and Michael McFadden, Lindsay and Colton Boehm, Justin and Dana Williams, Brittany Kootman, Amanda Lasater, and Josh and Danielle Kootman.

What follows is an essay the Kootman’s eldest granddaughter, Stephanie McFadden, wrote in honor of her grandparents’ anniversary.

To Mama and Papa on their 70th anniversary:

I remember the first time I walked back Mama and Papa’s house following the many, many months of gathering outdoors only because of the pandemic. I didn’t realize the smell of their house would hit me so hard — maybe it was the smell of the grilled onions from something delicious Mama was cooking, but it made me reflect on just how many memories have been made at Mama and Papa’s.  From the early days of desperately trying to be included in a game of home-run derby with all my big boy cousins, the card games at the kitchen table while snacking on matzah meal pancakes or Shirley Temples and the innumerable dinners and celebrations of everyone in their living room.

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Fast forward 20 years to the days of our little ones crawling around on the pool table, the playtime in the playroom where Mama always insists a little one leave with a stuffed animal or toy, or the little hands that are always filled with a bag of candy from Papa – how amazing we are to have these memories not only as grandchildren, but now with our own children as well.

Knowing Mama and Papa is more than just knowing that Mama makes the very best buttered noodles or that Papa will always make you laugh with one of his inappropriate jokes.  It’s their unconditional love they have not only for each other, but for all their four children, 10 grandchildren, and 20 great-grandchildren (with two more on the way!).

It’s knowing that you can talk to Mama about anything and everything and not only will her lips always be sealed, but she will offer words of advice only if the moment is right and more importantly, she will always be there with a hug.

It’s knowing that Papa will be the first in the room to brag about his great-grandchildren, always captivating the little one’s attention with his desire to learn about what is going on in their life, not just to ask to be asking but because he truly cares.

It’s the stories Mama shares about writing detailed puppet plays and creating every single accessory for the puppets to present to their preschool (of course, always with life lessons) or the moments Papa shares about his time served in the army or his top-secret grilling instructions.

And while you never leave their house empty handed — sometimes with leftovers, sometimes with candy or sometimes with the most perfect apple peeler that Mama insists you take home — more importantly, you leave their house inevitably feeling happier than when you arrived.  And that’s the remarkable thing about Mama and Papa — being around them makes you want to be a better individual, always working to not only show our love in the same way that the two of them do, but to continue to work hard with our own families to forever carry on the same love and traditions.

As an adult, I can so clearly reflect on how incredible it is to be able to have developed the relationship I have with my grandparents.  How thankful we are for their health, their happiness and for the love that we have been so blessed to witness and feel every single day.  Being able to wrap each one of our newborns up with one of Mama’s baby afghans and more, to have both Mama and Papa snuggle each one of these babies is truly special.

Mama and Papa, what an honor to be your granddaughter. Thank you for loving each other that much for 70 years, for putting in the work when I am sure moments were challenging, for creating a family that we are all so proud to be a part of, and for loving all of us a bushel and a peck and a hug around your neck.

Walking into your house after all of those months was so powerful because there is just so much more wrapped up in it than just the smell. It’s knowing that we were and are always welcome there. It’s knowing that there is always the best snacks and meals, and you will never leave hungry.  It’s knowing that we will be given sound advice, but never judged. And it’s knowing that we will always leave feeling more loved than when we arrived.

The love that the two of you have for each other remarkably fills all of us with the most profound sense of love and security. We are better people because of the influence and impact you both have had on our lives.

We love you so very much and wish you the happiest anniversary and many, many more.