“Frozen in Time”: Couple reflects on how journalism sparked their relationship

Naomi and Lew Serviss met as journalism students in the 1970s and are now reporters in New York.

Lew Serviss (left), a 1977 journalism alumnus and former staff editor at The Temple News, types at his desk in the newsroom. Naomi Serviss (right), a 1977 English and journalism alumna, who met Lew while working at The Temple News, poses for a photo in front of her now husband's desk in the Temple News Office in the 1970s. | LEW SERVISS / COURTESY

As Lew Serviss sat in the back of a lecture hall for his journalism class nearly four decades ago, he became infatuated with a girl sitting a few rows away from him.  

That girl would one day become his wife, but the journey leading up to their relationship was long and, at times, complicated. 

For Valentine’s Day this year, The Temple News is celebrating couples like Lew Serviss, an editor at The New York Times, and Naomi Serviss, an entertainment columnist and reporter for Broadway. The two met while working at The Temple News in the 1970s and are now happily married in Manhattan, New York, with two children and a dog named Janis Joplin. They are excited to celebrate their 43rd wedding anniversary next month.  

Although they had class together, Lew and Naomi Serviss first met in The Temple News’ office, where Lew worked as a staff editor and Naomi worked as a reporter.

The two soon became close friends, bonding over their love for journalism, movies, music and local eateries like campus food trucks and the London Grill.  

Their friendship blossomed into a relationship shortly after Naomi divorced her former husband, and the two officially started dating in 1975. 

“Our journey went through a lot of different incarnations,” said Naomi, a 1977 English and journalism alumna.“[We] broke up, got back together, almost got married to somebody else — little things like that. But always stayed in touch and, inevitably, he just won me over with his charm.” 

Lew expressed his love for Naomi in many ways over the years, but one that stuck most with Naomi was the time he stole the “Naomi” Street sign in Philadelphia for her, she said. 

The two spent much of their time at Temple focusing on furthering their journalism careers, and often found themselves in unique situations, like when they spoke with former President Jimmy Carter when he came to the university while running for president in March of 1975. 

Carter was hosting a rally at the Bell Tower, but due to the pouring rain and limited number of people in attendance, Naomi and Lew helped relocate him to a room in the basement of the library and interviewed him. 

After graduating from Temple in 1977 with journalism degrees, the two moved to Buffalo, New York, then Naomi moved to Boston by herself to focus on her career. 

Lew visited Naomi for her first Thanksgiving in Boston and felt the trip was magical. After leaving, he decided to propose to her via telegram on New Year’s Day. The two married in March 1979. 

Since marrying, they’ve had two kids, Emily and Ben, who have helped strengthen their relationship with each other. 

“We did a lot of play-acting, singing, dancing,” said Emily Serviss, daughter of Naomi and Lew and search coordinator at Raines International. “We’re generally a pretty silly family and we still are.”

Emily values the supportive, caring and fun environment her parents created for her and her brother growing up. She feels her parents set a high standard for relationship expectations. 

“They’re a great example of how love and relationships and marriage is not the idyllic thing that you see in movies and TV and read about in books,” she said. “It’s a lot of communication and understanding who you are as individuals and how you work as a team.” 

Emily hopes to find someone who complements and supports her as well as her parents complement and support each other, she said. 

Naomi and Lew have never felt hesitant to move or travel across the country for their work, and their mutual love and understanding of the journalistic world has led them to states like Florida, where Emily was born, and New York, where Ben was born. 

Since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, the couple’s love for travel has been limited to the confines of their Manhattan apartment. However, they’re grateful for the opportunity to work from home because they motivate each other to be productive. 

Editing content for The New York Times from home can sometimes be taxing, but being able to look up at his beautiful wife and joke around with her has made it all much easier for Lew, he said. 

Naomi and Lew are excited to celebrate their wedding anniversary next month and still feel sparks like they did when they first started dating. 

“We still basically feel like the same age when we were at The Temple News,” Lew said. “Because we’ve been together so long, and our history is a shared history, we’re sort of frozen in time at that point, which sort of makes it fun.” 

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