Kenwood by Senior Star resident Stevie Marks has lived an extraordinary life. In addition to her brave and remarkable escape from war-torn Europe, she now has a new story to tell.
Earlier this month, she unknowingly moved down the hall from one of the people that helped offer her safety from the Nazis 75 years ago, her cousin Maybel.
In 1939, Stevie and her Jewish family evaded capture when she was just fourteen years old. They spent the next year in Poland running and hiding from the Nazis. In a risky effort while staying in Lodz, Poland, she and her family were able to get their passports stamped and take a train with 3,000 Nazis back to Belgium.
However, their time in Belgium did not last long. The Nazis invaded the area once more, and the Marks’ fled to France and then Portugal. Their journey lasted nearly two years and spanned across 7,000 miles through five countries. Finally, the Marks family traveled to the American consulate and requested entrance into the United States.
There, Stevie met her cousin Maybel. Though they were distant relatives and the two families had never spoken to each other before, Maybel’s family offered the Marks’ shelter and served as their sponsors to the U.S. government.
After three months, the Marks family finally found freedom and started their new lives in Cincinnati. The two families gradually lost touch, but Stevie never forgot the kindness that Maybel demonstrated toward her family. Stevie spent most of her life sharing her amazing experiences with others, becoming a speaker for the Center for Holocaust and Humanity Education in an effort to change the world for the better. 75 years later, she moved into the Kenwood and learned, to her surprise, that Maybel was living right down the hall from her.
Her touching story has gained national attention from media outlets across the United States, including ABC News, but Stevie is just excited to have the opportunity to reconnect with her cousin. “We started our lives together and we’re going to end our lives together,” Stevie said with satisfaction.