Temple alumnus dedicates Hardwick Hall elevator to late wife and their love story

Eric and Shari Schlesinger met in Hardwick’s elevator on move-in day in 1972, leading to a 42-year marriage.

Eric S. Schlesinger, a 1973 psychology alumnus, holds a miniature copy of the plaque that is on display outside of the South Hardwick Elevator at Hardwick Hall, located at 2029 N. Broad St., on Friday. Schlesinger had the elevator dedicated to his wife, Shari Rubin Schlesinger, a 1974 education alumna, who he first met on the elevator on Sept. 6, 1972. |HANNAH BURNS / THE TEMPLE NEWS

Eric Schlesinger met Shari Rubin on move-in day in 1972 in a peculiar spot: a residence hall elevator.

The male resident assistants were in charge of operating the elevators in Hardwick Hall. Schlesinger was manually operating the elevators when Shari walked in to go to her 11th-floor room.

A few days later at a social mixer in Hardwick, Shari said the first words that would put her and Schlesinger on a path to a marriage lasting more than 40 years.

“She walked up to me and said, ‘Hi, Mr. Elevator Man,’” Schlesinger said Friday. “I said, ‘Hi, my name is Eric,’ and then it started from there.”

The story of the first meeting of Schlesinger and the soon-to-be Shari Rubin Schlesinger is commemorated on a plaque next to Hardwick’s south elevator, which was unveiled at a ceremony Friday.

Standing next to Hardwick Hall’s elevator on the 11th floor, Schlesinger, a 1973 psychology alumnus, said he and Shari might not have met if it hadn’t been for that elevator.

Schlesinger presses floor 11 on the South Hardwick Elevator at Hardwick Hall, located at 2029 N. Broad St., on Friday. Schlesinger’s wife, Shari, lived on the eleventh floor of Hardwick Hall when she attended Temple. |HANNAH BURNS / THE TEMPLE NEWS

“Shari was the perfect partner,” Schlesinger added. “She was a very caring and giving person. She took great care of me, and I hope I took good care of her when she got sick.”

Shari, a 1974 education alumna, died in August 2017 from colon cancer. Schlesinger chose the south elevator of Hardwick Hall to honor Shari last fall, during a meeting in Conwell Hall to discuss a donation for an undisclosed amount to Temple University.

President Richard Englert and Provost JoAnne Epps both attended the ceremony. During his remarks, Englert said Schlesinger’s story is both typical and unique.

“It’s typical because so many people have come up to me, alumni of this university, and have told me that they met their spouses at Temple University,” Englert said. “[It’s] unique because it’s an elevator story and how many people meet in an elevator.”

Eric S. Schlesinger rides the Hardwick South Elevator, which he had dedicated to his wife, Shari Rubin Schlesinger, at Hardwick Hall, located on 2029 N. Broad St., on Friday. |HANNAH BURNS / THE TEMPLE NEWS

During the 1972 mixer, the two talked until the heat and noise at the mixer became overwhelming. They then went on a walk around campus and sat on a bench outside Johnson and Hardwick Halls to talk. During their long conversation, Schlesinger and Shari discovered they both went to Pinemere Camp, a summer camp near the Pocono Mountains, at the same time.

“Thankfully, we didn’t meet each other because I was 13-years-old and she was 12 and that’s not the age for boys and girls to meet,” Schlesinger said.

Schlesinger and his wife’s first date was to the movies to see “The New Centurions” at the Sam Eric Theatre in Center City. Schlesinger said Shari wore a black dress with gold buttons and black boots that he found strikingly beautiful.

The two were dating for about a year when their relationship was tested: Schlesinger went off to graduate school to get a master’s degree in counseling at the State University of New York in Albany, New York, while Shari finished her senior year at Temple.

At the time, long-distance phone calls were expensive. The young couple talked on the phone only once or twice a week. Schlesinger would drive to Temple once a month to see Shari and take her to the movies or dinner.

“I would drive home, and we came to realize that if our relationship could remain strong through that five-hour distance that it must be good,” Schlesinger said.

A dedication board outside of the Hardwick Elevators displays photo of Schlesinger and his wife, Shari, throughout their relationship at Hardwick Hall, located at 2019 N. Broad St., on Friday.

After Shari graduated in 1974, Schlesinger proposed to her in City Hall’s courtyard. The newly-engaged couple went to Malcolm Gross Rose Garden in Schlesinger’s hometown Allentown, Pennsylvania, the weekend after the proposal.

Schlesinger moved into Shari’s apartment in Silver Spring, Maryland after they got married, and they lived in the town ever since. Schlesinger worked as a senior human resources officer at World Bank Group, an international financial institution, and Shari was an editor for several organizations including research firms and professional associations.

Schlesinger and Shari didn’t have children, but they did have three cats together. Shari named their current cat Suki, after a character on the CW comedy drama show “Gilmore Girls,” which ran until 2007.

Schlesinger said he couldn’t imagine having been with anybody else.

He added that even though Friday’s ceremony, recalling all the memories and answering questions about Shari was very emotional, he still thought it had been a great day. But one thing would have made it better.

“I’d want my wife to be with me,” Schlesinger said. “That would make it complete.”

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