Celebrating more than a century

Nathan Klienhandler has lived in Southbridge Towers for 47 years, and been married to his wife Rena 49. He celebrated his 105th birthday on July 7.
Photo by Sydney Pereira

BY SYDNEY PEREIRA

One of the first residents of Southbridge Towers celebrated his 105th birthday last weekend.

Nathan Klienhandler was surrounded by nieces and nephews who had come from hundreds of miles away and his wife, Rena. They have lived at 90 Gold St. for 47 years, and been married for 49, and through that time, they have become what one of their nephews described as the “quintessential New Yorkers.”

When they first got married, Nathan suggested they buy a home in Westchester.

“I said, ‘Westchester? Why would I want to live in Westchester?’” said Rena.

As an amateur photographer, Nathan filled their Southbridge Towers apartment with his photos. Though an economics and history teacher by trade, he passed down his interest in photography to his nephew, Alan Markfield, who is now a professional photographer snapping pictures on movie sets. After Markfield’s first byline was published, his uncle was the first one he called.

“They’ve always been the glue,” Markfield said of the Klienhandlers. “They’ve always been the quintessential New Yorkers.”

Nathan was surrounded by his nieces and nephews last weekend, who traveled from Toronto, California, Maryland, and Pennsylvania for his 105th birthday. Though the Klienhandlers never had children of their own, the couple took in Rena’s siblings’ children as their own in many respects. Nathan even vetted their boyfriends and girlfriends growing up, taking then on a mandatory stroll around the Lower East Side for chat while he sized them up.

His romantic judgement is clearly impeccable, because when asked about the most fantastic thing he has seen in his lifetime after witnessing more a century of history and technological advances, he didn’t hesitate to say the greatest marvel is his wife.

“One thing I can say is, in the 50 or so years we’ve been married, we never had a quarrel or a fight about money,” Nathan said.

Rena revealed her husband’s secret for their long and happy marriage.

“He has cherished me, loved me, and indulged me, and he has never said ‘no’ to me,” she said.

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