Best friends reunite in Fenwick after 42 years


In 1968, Maryann Budko, Martha Leredu and Robin Fogel were the best of friends, graduating from Stamford High School in Stamford, Conn. Last weekend, the three reunited after 42 years apart, for a vacation in Fenwick Island.

Coastal Point • Submitted: From left, Martha Leredu, Maryann Nugent and Robin Shaivitz have not let go of their lifelong friendship, and recently got back together in Fenwick Island.Coastal Point • Submitted
From left, Martha Leredu, Maryann Nugent and Robin Shaivitz have not let go of their lifelong friendship, and recently got back together in Fenwick Island.

Today, Maryann Budko is Maryann Nugent and Robin Fogel is Robin Shaivitz, though Martha Leredu still goes by that name. All three live in different states, and have careers and families, and lead separate lives. But shared memories of their youth keep them close.

In high school, the three were members of a social group called “the Sigmas.”

“We were the popular kids,” explained Nugent.

They spent their high school years doing what all the other girls were doing: going to sporting events and dances, hanging out with friends and, of course, discussing boys.

The first reuniting of these friends came 10 years after their graduation, at their first high school reunion.

“I think there was an instant connection,” said Nugent.

But Leredu said it was hard to recognize some other old classmates.

“We were all wearing our yearbook pictures as name tags, and you had to look at the picture to see who it was,” she said.

Nugent said the 10th reunion was also more about showing off what you had done than seeing old friends.

“I think at the 10th, you go back and you want to show who you are,” said Leredu. “At the 40th, you want to reconnect.”

Shaivitz said the friends’ latest reunion also revealed a great deal about the struggles that people encounter in their lives.

“Life happened,” Leredu said.

All three agreed that technology has made reconnecting much easier. Through Web sites such as classmates.com and Facebook, their high school classmates have been able to find each other and organize four reunions with greater ease than before.

“The 40th brought back so many people who had never been to any of the other reunions. Because of the Internet it was easier to reach people,” said Shaivitz.

All three recalled their high school years fondly – especially the senior prom.

“Senior prom was the culmination of everything good in life,” said Shaivitz.

But all agreed that many things have changed about high school today.

“Nobody was scheduled like kids are today,” said Nugent.

And Shaivitz said that their parents had more of an “Oh, kids,” attitude than they do today.

“I’m sure parents worried like parents do today, but they worried about different things,” said Leredu. “It was more who you were with, not what you were doing.”

In 1968, the United States was entering the peak of its involvement in the conflict in Vietnam. Robert Kennedy and Martin Luther King Jr. had just been assassinated.

“By the time we graduated in 1968, there was a new, a more complex, serious culture that had taken hold,” Shaivitz said.

They said their college years were full of protests and anti-war movements.

“We adopted the more hippy lifestyle,” Shaivitz said. In fact, all three went to Woodstock in August of 1969.

But, despite all of the turmoil and unrest that was brewing around them, Nugent said life was truly simpler.

“Our whole life then really focused around our girlfriends, and our boyfriends,” Shaivitz said.

And now in 2010, their bond is as strong as ever.

“It feels like it was yesterday,” Shaivitz said. “Time has not hurt the relationship.”

With their life experiences, they all agree that they may be different, but they’re still the same three friends.

“It’s that realization that, as you get older, your persona is there your whole life,” Leredu said. “You physically change, but your essence just does not change.”

During their time in Fenwick this summer, Nugent, Leredu and Shaivitz planned to enjoy the beach, eat, shop and just talk and gossip like they used to 42 years ago.