International affair: Princeton couple’s long marriage started with chance encounter in Paris

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So many occurrences we cherish in life begin with a perfect alignment of the stars, the magic of being in the right place at the right time.

That’s the case for Jacques and Rosalie Fresco, who lived on opposite sides of the Atlantic and first crossed paths in July 1957 while both were spending a short time in Paris.

(Article continues below sound clips.)

Listen to Jacques Fresco:

Listen to Rosalie Fresco:

Rosalie, who grew up an only child in South Wales in the U.K., had just finished her first year of teaching home economics in London when her parents took her on her first trip abroad, a family vacation in Paris.

One evening, while her father stood examining his guidebook in front of the Musée de Cluny, an American stranger offered his help with a little geographic orientation.

That was Jacques Fresco, who was spending a few months in Paris that year doing research in biochemistry at a lab in the Sorbonne.

Jacques, now 82, who at the time was employed as a researcher at Harvard University, was even farther from home than Rosalie, who is seven years younger.

The oldest of three siblings, he was born in New York, attended the Bronx High School of Science and studied at New York University, where he got a bachelor’s degree in biochemistry, a master’s degree in zoology and a doctorate in biochemistry.

He went on to work as a researcher at the Sloan-Kettering Institute for Cancer Research and teach at New York University Medical School before going on to do research and teach at Harvard and, for the last 50 years, at Princeton University.

After offering to help Rosalie’s father get his bearings, he and Jacques struck up a conversation and, at her father’s invitation, strolled together several blocks to the Seine and then to the square in front of Notre Dame Cathedral, Jacques Fresco recalled.

That’s where, under a gas lamp, Jacques Fresco first encountered Rosalie and her mom, who joined the men in the conversation while the hours ticked by.

The group parted company around midnight when Jacques realized he had to rush to catch the last subway that night. In his haste, he didn’t exchange contact information with Rosalie and her family.

One or two days later, however, he managed to track her down by phone in her hotel room because he knew the general area where they probably were staying and the husband of his lab director had informed him that there’s a small hotel in that neighborhood favored by the British.

Much to her delight and his, they began dating right away and got married by the end of that year, on Dec. 22, 1957, by a rabbi in The Bronx since they are both Jewish.

They moved to Princeton after he got a job teaching at Princeton  in 1960. He remains on the Princeton faculty in the department of molecular biology.

Rosalie Fresco received her bachelor’s degree in home economics and nutrition from the University of Wales at Cardiff.

After she married Jacques, she worked briefly in a chemistry lab at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology then became a stay-at-home mom for the couple’s three children, all of whom are now happily married with eight kids of their own among them.

Jacques and Rosalie said they are both thankful for that chance encounter in Paris and the strength of their marriage.

“We are truly blessed,” Rosalie Fresco said.

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One Response to International affair: Princeton couple’s long marriage started with chance encounter in Paris

  1. says:

    Daughter Lulu’s an old friend of mine from Boston.

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