PAWTUCKET — Call them “Mr. and Mrs. Pawtucket” now. Herb Weiss, the city's Economic and Cultural Affairs Officer, recently tied the knot with his longtime partner, Patty Zacks, owner of The Camera Werks on Hope Street.
The wedding, held on Dec. 30 in the couple's Marbury Avenue home, officially sealed a 15-year relationship. State Senator and Municipal Court Judge Donna M. Nesslebush conducted the civil ceremony. Joe and Joyce Silvestri of Seekonk, longtime friends of the couple, served as witnesses, while Weiss and Zacks' two chocolate Labrador Retrievers, Abby and Murray, did duty as “flower dogs.”
Weiss, 56, and Zacks, 57, admitted that this was the third wedding license that they had taken out from City Hall. Unlike the two previous ones, they didn't let this one expire. But why now, after 15 years? “The timing was perfect. It was the fifteenth anniversary of my first date with her,” said Weiss. Also, he said that both his and Zacks' work lives “can be intense, and I thought that we should stop and smell the roses.”
For her part, Zacks said that getting married was “something we had talked about for years, but it never seemed to be the appropriate time. This time, it was our anniversary, it seemed to work...the stars were in alignment,” she added.
Actually, the stars moved into alignment for the couple a long time ago, after a few “interruptions.” Weiss, a native of Dallas, Texas, had moved to Rhode Island after working in the Washington, D.C. Metropolitan area to take a job as an editor for Brown University's “Longterm Quality Care” newsletter. He first went to Zack's shop, The Camera Werks, to have a poster framed that had been a send-off gift from his previous job.
Weiss said he visited The Camera Werks and its personable proprietor, Zacks, on several other occasions but then didn't see her for awhile. He eventually reconnected with her at a very inopportune time—at the Providence Post office, where he was mailing out his wedding invitations to another woman.
Weiss said the two chatted amicably as they waited in line, a conversation where he learned that Zacks, who often wore a wedding ring at the store, was actually divorced. A couple of months later, Weiss's wedding was off, and he began thinking about Patty.
Weiss called Zacks and asked her out on Dec. 30, 1995. Zacks, a divorced mother of two pre-teens, said she was a little frightened of the dating game, and asked a female friend to go along for moral support. Weiss, arriving at The Camera Werks just prior to closing time, was unaware of the arrangement, but realized that the friend didn't seem to want to leave “so I just asked her to go along.” The threesome went to the Four Seasons restaurant in Cranston for Chinese food, and wrapped up the evening at The Tinker's Nest, an Irish pub in Warren. After that, he had Patty to himself on subsequent dates, and the two swiftly became inseparable.
City Clerk Richard Goldstein joked that he had warned Weiss that the third marriage license was the last one he was going to issue. “I just wish them a long and happy relationship from here on in,” he said.
Those closest to the couple said they were surprised at hearing the news, but only because a ceremony actually took place on December 30. Weiss and Zack had seemed “married” in everyone's mind anyway. Ben Zacks, Patty's son, said he was initially “a little shocked” to get the news, considering that the couple had been together for so long. “I thought that it would have happened 10 years ago, if it was going to. But, I'm happy for them.” He added, “My mom actually notified me via instant message—that's how low key she is.”
Jim Weiss, Weiss' married twin brother, who lives in Dallas, Texas, said, “I think it's great and I think it's about time!” He said that Herb had talked about getting married earlier in the year, but getting a phone call that day was “unexpected.” He added, “I'm unsure why it took so long, but that's Herb. It's a wonderful thing. Patty is great and we want to welcome her into the family.”
Joe Silvestri, director of operations for Spumoni's restaurant in Pawtucket and Twelve Acres in Smithfield, said it was “an honor” for he and his wife, Joyce, to stand up for the couple. The two have known Zacks and Weiss for the entire time they have been together, and said the wedding ceremony was “something we were excited about, and we were really looking forward to.”
Silvestri noted how hard working both Weiss and Zacks are in their professional lives, as well as their involvement in city events. “They love the city and they are committed to the city. You couldn't have better spokespeople than these two,” he said.
Phyllis Nathanson said that she and her husband, Morris, also longtime friends of Weiss and Zacks, were “ecstatic” when they heard the news. “I thought it was about time,” commented Nathanson, “But, we're both happy and joyous for them.”
As to the ceremony itself, Zacks won out with her wish for a low-key ceremony—the only guests were the Silvestris and the two dogs—while Herb had always wanted something more lavish. “But, we decided within a week and it took very little planning. I worked that day, came home and got married,” said Patty. “It was a very nice ceremony—small and intimate. And then we went out to dinner at the Spain restaurant in Cranston to celebrate.”
The couple say that right now, they are both too busy with their respective jobs, and their dogs, both of whom have medical issues, to take a honeymoon. They say they might, at some later date, have a bigger party for family and friends.
Weiss credits his wife and her social networking skills as being instrumental in helping him get the job that he currently has with the city. He said that it was Patty, a longtime follower of Pawtucket politics, who suggested that he contact former Mayor James E. Doyle to offer his writing skills to Doyle's first mayoral campaign.
Recalling his previous failed engagement, Weiss added that his and Patty's story shows that there is “hope and recovery after a broken heart.”