• Keeping Friends

Great Friendship Stories: The Doria-Dentes from Brooklyn

Published: May 11, 2011 | Last Updated: May 14, 2020 By | 7 Replies Continue Reading

Margaret Doria and Anita Dente have taught at the same two Catholic high schools in Brooklyn, at the same time, for 45 years. At first blush, they seem like the proverbial "odd couple"—an Oscar and Felix with different styles and views of the world.

A collegial relationship at first developed into an extraordinary friendship. Fast forward many years later: Due to back problems, Ms. Dente eventually had to depend on a walker and could no longer live alone. It wasn’t too surprising when Ms. Doria invited her to live in her home and offered to help her navigate around at school.

I could never tell this story half as well as it’s author, Michael Winerip, who reported it for the Education section of the New York Times. Please click on this link and read the entire article: Brooklyn Teachers Joined at the Hip, and, to Some Pupils, by a Hyphen. I’m sure you’ll be as touched by his telling as I was.

The story mentions something one of their students wrote in a letter to Ms. Doria some years ago. The student said: "Watching you help Ms. Dente to her classes each day is a reminder to the school that friendship is the most important lesson we can learn."

Two days later and halfway around the globe, a new study by researchers at Tel Aviv University, led by Arie Shirom, PhD and published by the American Psychological Association, followed more than 800 adults over a period of twenty years and reached a similar conclusion about the value of strong friendships in the workplace. The team found that those individuals with a good support system at work lived longer than those without one.

Taken together, the evidence suggests that the workplace can be a wonderful place to find new friends who can enhance our productivity, health and happiness. People worry about mixing work and pleasure. Sure, there are pitfalls. If you have a falling out with a colleague, it can make it very uncomfortable for you and other people. But this isn’t too different that having a disagreement with the neighbor who lives next door or a misunderstanding with the mom whose kids are friends with your children.

The workplace can be a wonderful place to make and nurture friendships. You spend large amounts of time with your co-workers and already have something in common. Think about it: Aren’t the benefits of even possibly having a hyphenated four-decade long friendship like Doria-Dente worth the risks?


Have a friendship question or dilemma? Ask The Friendship Doctor. Or participate in the give and take with other readers on The Friendship Forums.

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Comments (7)

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  1. Irene says:

    How neat! Thanks so much for posting~



  2. Anonymous says:

    I was a student of both Ms. Dente and Ms. Doria in high school. They are excellent teachers and very nice women. I thought it was cool that they were good friends that worked together. 🙂

    I was happy to read this article in the paper!


  3. Irene says:

    Thanks for joining in the conversation!

    Best, Irene

  4. Sunny says:

    Good morning, Irene. I tried to post again, & this time it worked. Last time it gave an error message that said something about my post having to be in the spam folder or something like that. My new post is not “sunny,” but I’m grateful to have a place to post it. Thank you again for providing the forums.

  5. Anonymous says:

    Work friendships are inevitable, though certainly some friendships are circumstantial and end once you no longer work together.Some are genuine and chosen due to both people really liking each other and wanting to extend the friendship outside of work.People fallin live at work too. I have had both friendships that have lived on and ones where there wasn’t interest from one or both outside the workplace.
    With risk,since we are talkinga about work, we can learn from a workplace concept, risk management, or calculated risk. not to be analytical in relationships, as they happen spontaneously or as a result of good chemistry, but careless risk can end up in some real messes, and should be avoided. I have some memories of fake friends or users from work relationships that my gut told me, and I would not take a risk with the same type of person again, and regret being friends! But some are worth the risk too!!!! We should just bring consciousness into it, minimize risks and perhaps refrain from risks that could end in disaster if our instinct tells us. Once in a while, because love is somewhat careless we might throw caution to the wind because the friendship is more importatnt than practicality, but we should be conscious if we are doing that too so we can at least be as careful as possible. In other words, as with everything, follow your heart and use your bean!

  6. Irene says:

    Thanks for your "sunny" comment about friendships in the workplace. I loved this story too!
    You raise an important point about the impact on friendships of leaving the workplace. It’s important that we find ways to maintain the ties we’ve made—after we leave—if they are/were important to you. It’s harder to make new friends than to keep old friendships that are still rewarding.
    Sunny, there shouldn’t be a kink on the forums. Can you do me a favor and try one more time? If it doesn’t work, can you use the contact form (above tab) to tell me exactly what you did and exactly what happened.
    Thanks for your valuable contributions.
    Warm regards,

  7. Sunny says:

    This article made my day. Many of my closest friends have come from the workplace. When a conflict has arisen, as it sometimes does with any friendship, there is a huge incentive to patch things up: It’s too uncomfortable otherwise. Sometimes ripples in the water cooler, so to speak, have resolved by just scaling back a little bit on the chit chat. Then, a little time will pass and things are okay again, with no heavy discussions being necessary. This has been my experience, anyway. I guess one pitfall can be that, once one of you leaves the job, the friendship might turn out to have been a “circumstantial friendship” where you find out you didn’t have much in common once the circumstances were no longer shared. But that’s a risk worth taking.

    Irene, thank you for the forums! I tried to post a new topic, but the spam filter denied it. I’m not sure why. Maybe the kinks still have to be worked out?

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