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January 11, 2003

Couple still rides in love's carousel

From: Syracuse Post Standard, NY - 11 Jan 2003


Vera and William Lange spent part of their 20th wedding anniversary day riding the carousel at Carousel Center this week.

They held hands and smiled a lot. They were joined on the Philadelphia Toboggan Co.'s No.18 by family and friends.

William is a retired Episcopal priest; Vera, a retired teacher and his trusted helper. They live on East Colvin Street.

Both are 93 and have been deaf most of their lives.

"They've been doing this the last 10 years," William's daughter, Diana Saliba of Morrisville, explained as we stood in the middle of the anniversary partiers at Carousel, most of them speaking avidly in thumbs and fingers.

"They were attracted to the carousel because it was made in 1909, their birth date," Diana says.

William put it this way in a note: "It was made in 1909, the same year both Vera and I were born. And all the horses are DEAF, like us. We have a strong affinity to the carousel."

The Langes met as students at Gallaudet College (now university) in Washington, D.C., in the 1930s. They married after their first spouses died, renewing their friendship at a college reunion.

Most of his career in the priesthood, since he was ordained in 1942, involved ministering to the deaf of several faiths across Upstate New York, "from Buffalo to Albany, Binghamton to Malone," according to William.

Although he's retired, the ministry goes on. Both Langes are on the board of Aurora of Central New York, advocates and service providers for the deaf and blind.

"He's a role model, for me and others," the Rev. Peter Williams of St. Joseph's Church in Camillus told me. "Everybody loves the Langes. They're like our grandparents."

Father Williams, who has his hearing, is the Catholic diocese missionary to the deaf. He learned to sign while assigned to St. Lucy's, which has several deaf members of the congregation.

Vera has been hard of hearing since she was a child, from scarlet fever. Her husband had normal hearing until he was 10, and got cerebral-spinal meningitis.

"I have not heard a sound since then," he says.

William came to Syracuse after ordination. He traveled all over the state and wore out 18 cars as he ministered to the

© 2003 The Post-Standard.