He might have had a naval career, or fame on the stage - but Milton Lev sought a quieter life.
Lev was born in Brooklyn. He enlisted in the Navy after high school, and became a pharmacist’s mate on a hospital ship during World War II. The ship treated the wounded who’d often been plucked from the sea.
After the war, Lev went to pharmacy school, and eventually took over his father’s drug store in New York.
At the time, his sister, Carolle, worked with a woman named Marilyn.
Marilyn Lev recalled, “We used to go walking through Greenwich Village. She knew nothing about the Village, and I would show her around. She said, ‘Do you want to meet my brother? He’s very sophisticated.’ Well, he was the least sophisticated person I ever met – and he stayed that sweet all these years.”
Marilyn and Milton wed, built a life, and raised three children. Their eldest, Bobbi Reilly of Redding, Conn., recalled her father’s devotion to his family, and his customers. Said Bobbi, “One of my cousins said, ‘Your dad is the only guy I’ve met whose sole joy was making other people happy.’”
Bobbi recalled her father’s readiness to lend a hand. “He’d get a call in the middle of the night, and drive 25 minutes to open the drug store and bring someone what they needed. He’d do anything for his customers.”
Milton retired in his 70s, and worked at a hospital pharmacy before coming to Georgia.
Milton Lev of Dunwoody died Jan. 19 of pneumonia. He was 86. A memorial service was held Friday at H.M. Patterson and Son Arlington Chapel, Sandy Springs.
While the Levs’ life in Georgia was quieter, they still had their share of excitement. Marilyn performed in plays at several community theaters. Milton escorted her to auditions. “One time, he auditioned for a part on a TV show – and he got a call-back. But, Ben Stiller’s father ended up with the part,” recalled Marilyn.
“I think he would have made a good actor. He would have been good at anything. But he did not want the spotlight,” she added.
She recalled the last roles they played: a husband and wife in a sketch called “Christmas/Valentine’s Day” (part of the Fifth Row Center Theater’s production, “All I Really Need to Know I Learned in Kindergarten”). Donna Chalmers, the theater’s artistic director, said, “We got to know them very well. He was delightful to work with. He would do anything for his wife. I remember that skit very fondly.” Chalmers said the pair performed the same roles in a show at Lake Lanier Islands.
At Pacifica Senior Living, Milton still displayed the caring cultivated on a ship long ago. He liked spending time with his bride. Every anniversary, he wrote Marilyn a note. On a recent anniversary, he said he hoped they had 64 more years together. Bobbi Reilly said, “He was madly in love with her for 64 years, and carried their wedding photo in his wallet.”
Survivors include a daughter, Jackie Halbreich of Atlanta; a son, Ron of Lawrenceville; a sister, Carolle Greene of Florida; and six grandchildren.
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