Meant to Be: A Story of a Likely Love
Many believe that certain people come into our lives for a reason. Some say it was ordained by an all mighty being(s). Some say it is because of fate or destiny. In the Yiddish language there is a word “bashert” which translates to “it’s meant to be” and the love story of Donald and Marvene Like is a story of just that, bashert.
Their love story began in the 1950’s, with a young Donald Like, or Don as most know him, attending the University of California, Los Angeles. In the spring before his graduation, like most abled body young men of this time, Don received a draft letter from the military. He was to report to the closest recruitment station within a week’s time. A rumor surfaced that a percentage of the men would be sent to the Army and the remaining men would be sent to the Marines. To better his chances of being in the Army, Don returned to his parents’ home in New York and reported for duty. He was selected to serve in the United States Army and was sent for basic training soon after.
After basic training Don was sent to Signal School in Augusta, GA, where his life would take an unexpected turn. The local Jewish Welfare Board (JWB) held a dance for serviceman every weekend. One evening, the strapping young soldier was to accompany a young woman to the JWB dance. As fate would have it, she fell ill and could not make it. Feeling bad, she arranged a date with her girlfriend, a fiery southern beauty named Marvene Kingston. Marvene had never been on a blind date before and her nerves were getting the best of her. Her mother reassured her with these parting words, “Just go Marvene. You don’t have to marry him!” And this was the date that would mark the beginning of a lifetime love story.
During the dawn of their affection Marvene Kingston and Don Like set the foundation for a relationship that was more than just a feeling, but a partnership. As his ship-out date to Korea loomed, Don could not bear to leave his new found love, so he planned to do what any love-struck man would do, he proposed.
Being a young, enlisted man in the 1950’s meant honor and patriotism, but it also meant empty pockets. In other words, he was dead broke. Not being able to afford a ring, he went to his grandmother, who was from “the old country”. She gave him a ring that she had brought with her from Russia when she emigrated to the United States in 1907. This is the ring that Marvene still wears today.
A few days before deploying, the two lovebirds were engaged. On December 6th, 1954, nine days after his return from the Korean War, Marvene and Don were married. The very next day after they said “I do”, the newlyweds would move to California to start their family; and a few years later they gave birth to their first daughter, Mitzi. Nine years later they had their second and final child Dori.
To support his growing family, Don took on a job as a Helmsman, a door-to-door baked goods and sweets sales and delivery man. After making the same amount of money for two years in a row, he sought to look for a career where he could grow financially. They would get into business in the Insurance industry. And, 62 years later, they are still happily married with the family business; LBW Insurance.
LBW grew into an all service insurance company that insures and supports over 80 non-profit companies. Since its inception, Don is always the first in the office, and the last one to leave. The running joke in the office is that everyone at LBW has a 401(k) for retirement and Don has his 911 plan!
Throughout the family, it seems imperative to be selfless and to have strong ties to the community. No matter where they lived, the Likes stayed active in supporting their community. The Likes are huge supporters of Henry Mayo Newhall Hospital and have also partnered with College of the Canyons to offer scholarships to deserving students who major in business. They have instilled this same mentality in their children, their grandchildren, and even encourage their employees to do the same by their example.
Their eldest daughter, Mitzi, just completed her term as the Board Chair for the Henry Mayo Newhall Hospital Foundation and is still very active. Their grandson, Eric, helps coach a hockey team for special needs persons and their other grandson, Todd excels as the Ways & Means chairman for Congregation Beth Shalom in Santa Clarita. As the years go by, and the family continues to grow, they hold on to the mantra of “the biggest thing we have is family, the next is LBW”.
When posed with the question, “what drives you?” They returned with “We just like going and doing and we will keep on going and doing.” And that is exactly what they do all over the world.