In­volved at ev­ery level

Pasatiempo - - Onstage This Week - MAr­iAn and Abe Sil­ver Jr. — Michael Wade Simp­son

The list of lo­cal or­ga­ni­za­tions to which Abe and Mar­ian Sil­ver have of­fered their sup­port as vol­un­teers, board mem­bers, trustees, donors, and of­fi­cers is a long one. Abe Sil­ver Jr., a sports writer and golf edi­tor for The Times-Picayune in New Or­leans when he met his fu­ture wife, moved to Santa Fe af­ter the Korean War. Mar­ian Sil­ver grew up in Santa Fe. Her grand­par­ents opened the depart­ment store The Guar­an­tee Shop on the Plaza in 1912, the year New Mex­ico be­came a state. Af­ter spend­ing time in New Or­leans, where Mar­ian went to school, and in Vir­ginia, where Abe trained pi­lots at Lan­g­ley Air Force Base, the cou­ple came to live in Santa Fe and took over the op­er­a­tion of the store.

Abe joined the board of di­rec­tors at Santa Fe Opera in 1960. “I’ve known Charles MacKay [the opera’s gen­eral di­rec­tor] since he was a small child,” he said in an in­ter­view at the cou­ple’s home. MacKay is a Santa Fe na­tive. “I’ve worked with three di­rec­tors, but it was Gad­des [Richard Gad­des, MacKay’s pre­de­ces­sor] who had a love-hate re­la­tion­ship with me and my wardrobe.”

“He wore loud, ruf­fled shirts with his tux,” Mar­ian said. On a re­cent trip to Rus­sia, Sil­ver proudly pur­chased a dozen white shirts. “On sale, with ham- mer and sick­les em­broi­dered on them,” Abe said. He called Gad­des to give him the news.

Mar­ian has worked with the Mu­seum of New Mex­ico Foun­da­tion board for more than 25 years. “When I started, there was a staff of two,” she said.

Al­though much has changed in Santa Fe over the years, in­clud­ing the clos­ing of the fam­ily’s store in 1988 — “We were ready to re­tire,” Abe said — the cou­ple said that it gives them great plea­sure to see the way the arts have blos­somed here.

Mar­ian has been in­volved with the St. Vin­cent Hos­pi­tal Foun­da­tion for years. Abe was chair­man of the board of the Bank of Santa Fe and has served for sev­eral years as a re­gent for the New Mex­ico In­sti­tute of Min­ing and Technology in So­corro — “a won­der­ful, mag­nif­i­cent school,” he said. “A best-kept se­cret.”

The Sil­vers were in­volved with the found­ing of Tem­ple Beth Shalom, and they work with the Boys and Girls Club and the New Mex­ico Gover­nor’s Man­sion Foun­da­tion. Mar­ian was ap­pointed by Gov. Bill Richardson to chair the New Mex­ico Coin Com­mis­sion, which se­lected the im­age to rep­re­sent the state on the re­designed U.S. quar­ter. The Sil­vers were cho­sen as Santa Fe Liv­ing Trea­sures in 2008. They con­tinue to sup­port many other arts groups.

“It’s get­ting in­volved and stay­ing in­volved,” Abe said, ex­plain­ing the pair’s modus operandi. “I never went to school for lead­er­ship,” Mar­ian said, “but if you’re pas­sion­ate about some­thing, it’s easy.”

The Sil­vers have three chil­dren, all of whom live in Santa Fe. When the cou­ple are trav­el­ing, they love to tell peo­ple in air­ports that they are go­ing home to Santa Fe. Abe said that they of­ten hear “oh, you lucky stiffs” from peo­ple who are “on their way back to Detroit or Cleve­land.”

The Sil­vers said they plan to be scalp­ing tick­ets out­side the St. Francis Au­di­to­rium be­fore the pre­sen­ta­tion cer­e­mony for the Gover­nor’s Awards for Ex­cel­lence in the Arts, be­cause ev­ery­body in Santa Fe will want to come see Robert Red­ford.

“I’ve heard he looks a lit­tle older, though,” Mar­ian said.

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