A newlywed who had little time to enjoy being married before his deployment, Robert was missing his wife when he learned of a possible solution. “I was driving through the jungle with my colonel and we saw a house. The colonel said to me, ‘You know, if you own the house, even if it’s in a combat zone, and your commander approves of it, the Air Force must bring your family over.’ I thought, if that’s what the regulation says, that’s what I’ll do. So I built a house. I actually built five houses, so other families could come over too.” Phyllis, then working for an immigration lawyer, was flown to Okinawa by military transport in June of 1953.
Phyllis Mehler-Seavey '52 and Robert Seavey '52 on their 50th Wedding Anniversary.
While some new brides might have bristled at the idea of making a home in a foreign land (during wartime, no less), Phyllis loved it. “It was a wonderful experience to live on Okinawa. We had cloistered lives in New York, where we lived with our parents. On Okinawa, we met people from all over the United States. We traveled to Tokyo and Hong Kong. We were very happy in the service.”
During the nearly five years they remained on Okinawa, the couple had their first child, a son named Avery, and pursued their individual careers. Phyllis worked as a United States Army attorney, and Robert rose to become an Air Force Captain. After the war ended, the couple remained in the service and eventually returned to Manhattan, had their daughter Nealle, and began to work in real estate development and government-subsidized housing.
In the early eighties, Robert and Phyllis opened their law firm, Seavey & Seavey, which specialized in the development of subsidized housing. Based on his leadership in the area, Robert was eventually chosen by Governor Cuomo to be the Chairman of Battery Park City.
Today, Robert and Phyllis are retired and are enjoying their five grandchildren. Their two children are both lawyers—in fact, their daughter Nealle graduated from BLS in 1984 and met her husband Eric Seltzer, also Class of 1984, at the Law School.
“Law school is a great education no matter what you want to do in life,” said Phyllis. “Going to Brooklyn Law School was a very wonderful and happy experience for both of us. I loved the reading, the stories, the cases, it was better than any novel that anyone could ever write. Law school was a pleasure.”
Arthur Schwimmer ’64 and Arlene Colman-Schwimmer ’63
Arlene Colman needed a date. The annual Brooklyn Law School dance was quickly approaching, and she did not have an escort. It’s not that she didn’t know who she wanted to ask, but in 1962, women did not ask men to go on dates. But Arlene Colman was different. One of only seven women in her class at Brooklyn Law School, she had already made waves when she defied her parents’ wishes to pursue a career in the law instead of following in the footsteps of “every other middle-class Jewish woman and becoming a teacher.”
She surreptitiously took the LSAT and applied to Brooklyn Law School. When she was accepted, her parents were furious. “They told me I would never get married if I went to law school—that I would be too smart for any man,” she said. “I told my parents that if they didn’t let me go I would work as a secretary/lingerie model in the garment district. My parents were horrified, so my father struck a deal with me. He said if I got Bs or better I could stay.”
Her first year, she got As in all three of her classes. She noticed a certain young gentleman who was noticing her, too. Back then, women sat clustered together in the third row of the classroom, separated by one empty seat on either side of them, smack in the center of the alphabetically ordered men. Her seat had one advantage. She was in the line of sight of one Arthur Schwimmer, seated in the so-called “jury box,” three rows of seats perpendicular to the others, at the front of the classroom. “Arlene and I were able to flirt and make frequent eye contact,” Arthur recalled.
Though they made eyes in class, they didn’t officially meet and get to know one another until they were invited to be on the Moot Court team, and even then, they didn’t have their first date until Arlene asked him to the dance. He said yes. The dance was followed by a series of Friday dates and a courtship that led to marriage in March of 1964. Forty-six years and two children later, they are still happily together. Each has nurtured the other over the years, leading to successful professional lives as well.