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After 38 years together, travelers build their nest in La Jolla

When first meeting Frank and Noriko Marshik, one can’t help but notice the differences between them. He’s a solid man who radiates a sense of the outdoors and robust health.

And he is tall, enough to require at least a slight tilt of the head to take him all in. Noriko Marshik is slender, fine-boned and barely comes up to her husband’s shoulder. He’s American. She’s Japanese.

Within a few minutes, it becomes obvious Frank and Noriko Marshik compliment each other perfectly.

Their journey together is captured in a composite photograph for April of the 2006 Classic Moments calendar assembled by Classic Residence by Hyatt, which features the couple then and now.

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Two separate pictures were combined, showing Frank Marshik in 1945 wearing his Navy uniform and Noriko in 1962 in a traditional kimono. A smaller inset reveals a current photograph of the couple.

The couple met in Tokyo in 1968. Frank Marshik managed an office for an international engineering construction company. Noriko Marshik worked for a pearl exporter. A friend arranged for them to meet at a dinner party but failed to tell Frank Marshik that he was there as Noriko’s date.

When she caught sight of a Swedish stewardess on Frank’s lap, Noriko decided to leave. The hostess hurriedly cleared things up with Frank Marshik, who convinced Noriko to stay by persuading her to learn how to play a dice game together.

“One thing I’ll never forget,” Frank Marshik said, his tone deep and intense. “I told her that night and a hundred times since. When she smiles or laughs, it lights up the whole room.”

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Six months later, Noriko Marshik asked for a transfer to her company’s New York City office. Although the couple was still dating, there wasn’t talk of anything serious. She even gave Frank Marshik her television set as she prepared to move halfway around the world.

After Noriko Marshik boarded the ship that would carry her to San Francisco, Frank Marshik continued to visit their old haunts. “I went out and did the things we used to do, but it wasn’t the same. There was a great big hole.”

Knowing she would be at his sister’s home to deliver a gift, Frank called Noriko as soon as she arrived.

“What the hell are you doing over there?” he demanded. “Let’s get married.”

She traded in her ticket to New York and returned to Tokyo. In January 1969, they were married in a simple wedding ceremony at the American Embassy. That November, their daughter Karen was born.

Frank Marshik’s career as a mechanical engineer took the family all over the world. They have lived in London, Manila and Texas. His assignments and family travels have taken them to Sri Lanka, Indonesia, China, Russia, Iran, India, Japan, Morocco, Europe, South America, Egypt, Africa, Bora Bora, Saudi Arabia, Kenya and Ethiopia. They have a huge stockpile of stories and adventures, which they readily share.

Noriko Marshik became a U.S. citizen in 1971.

“Do you remember the three questions they asked you?” Frank Marshik asked his wife.

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“Yes,” she said, very seriously. “Who is the president? Who is the governor of New York? What kind of holiday is July 4?”

Her eyes twinkled and she continued her story.

After passing the test, she had to exchange her Japanese passport and American visa for an American passport and Japanese visa. When they returned to Japan, her friends were there to greet her with a special sign.

“It said, ‘Yankee go home,’ ” she recalled.

They agreed they had little trouble adjusting to different cultures and traditions.

“We were both very inquisitive,” Frank said.

After Frank Marshik retired, the couple decided they’d had enough travel. Their daughter convinced them to take one more trip so they could be closer to her, their son-in-law and their three grandchildren. The Marshiks moved to La Jolla Village about 14 months ago.

Frank Marshik plays golf three days a week and enjoys reading. Noriko Marshik teaches gentle yoga at the residence’s living center two days a week. She also teaches origami. Her good luck cranes have been in high demand since her neighbors discovered her talent.

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Frank Marshik said his wife’s notoriety is a change of pace from his corporate recognition.

“Around here, I’m known as Noriko’s husband,” he said.

Noriko Marshik said La Jolla is heavenly, especially compared to the humidity of Texas.

“This climate must be the best in the world,” she said. “It’s like the best season in Japan but all year long.”

The Marshiks enjoy having so many local attractions to treat their grandchildren when they visit.