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Carroll Township couple still banking on love 55 years later

| Tuesday, Aug. 12, 2014, 12:01 a.m.
Jim Ference | Trib Total Media
Helen and Jim Nahas sit side by side during a class at the Mon Valley YMCA. They have been by each other's side since meeting in a bank vault at Mellon Bank more than six decades ago.

Jim and Helen Nahas met in a bank vault in Monessen.

“I was working at Mellon Bank in Monessen, and he was with his dad… and he was flirting with me,” Helen Nahas recalled of that first meeting in 1952.

Jim, 80, and Helen, 79, Nahas have been married for more than 55 years. They live in Carroll Township.

His father owned Nahas Market in Monessen. Jim Nahas attended high school for half the day and worked in the market as a meat cutter the rest of the day.

He was just 18 when the couple first met. She was 17.

He was drafted into the Army in January 1957 and served for two years. He completed his basic training at Fort Knox, Ky. and then served the bulk of his duty at Fort Hood, Texas.

Two weeks after he was discharged from the Army, the couple married on Feb. 15, 1959.

“I remember when she proposed,” Jim Nahas said with a laugh.

She worked to put her husband through college. He completed his degree in August 1962 and received two job offers, choosing Baldwin over Hempfield.

For 28 years, Jim Nahas taught advanced mathematics courses such as algebra I and II, trigonometry, and analytical geometry at Baldwin High School.

“When I first started working, women weren't allowed to be married,” Helen Nahas said. “Then they changed the rules. You were allowed to be married, but you weren't allowed to be pregnant. Four of us (in the bank) got pregnant at the same time.”

The couple had their first child in 1963.

Although bank officials would call her back, she never returned. She did, however, teach gourmet cooking at Community College of Allegheny County years later.

“When I married him, I didn't know how to cook,” Helen Nahas said.

Helen Nahas said she has improved her craft by experimenting.

“He's my sous-chef. He gets everything ready and I just cook. I have over 2,000 cookbooks ... and they're not for show,” she said. “I always say, ‘Betty Crocker taught me. I made all of the bread we ate while the kids were growing up.”

The couple have three daughters, Lori Nahas, 51, of North Charleroi, Pamela Schrank, 48, of Monroeville, and Cynthia Pellis, 45, of Bethel Park, and seven grandchildren.

The couple has been to Italy three times, the last time to attend a family wedding in August 2008. The couple took dance lessons before heading to Italy in order to dance at the wedding.

“It was fun…and a lot of exercise,” Helene Nahas said.

Jim Nahas said he still has fond memories of his days as a teacher. Good natured, always with a big smile and a hearty laugh, he was many students' favorite teacher.

Jim Nahas was known for jokingly taking his left index finger and sliding it from his shoulder to the tip of his right index finger, saying, “That's not a little shame, it's a big shame.”

But big shames were few and far between. Many students always found it enjoyable to excel in his classroom.

“The students were wonderful,” Jim Nahas said.

But Jim Nahas' biggest fan is undoubtedly his wife, Helen. And he is his wife's.

When they both speak at the same time, he tells her politely, “You go ahead, dear.”

And as they walk to their car, they're still holding hands.

Chris Buckley is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 724-684-2642 or cbuckley@tribweb.com.

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