From a meeting online to a union under the chuppah

JDate might want to hire David Berman for a testimonial on mature adults finding a match.

“I tried several other agencies,” said the soon-to-be 70-year-old retired San Francisco attorney. “JDate had the most intelligent women.”

He ended up marrying one, but first the backstory.

It was after midnight on a fall night in 2008, and Berman was on, looking at profiles and hoping to find someone else who couldn’t sleep. JDate allows people to connect online immediately via IM and chat features.

Megan Sand and David Berman get married two years after meeting on JDate.

“I picked the prettiest girl that I saw — a lovely redhead, slim, a very California girl,” said Berman, who after living in Berkeley, Oakland and San Francisco now makes his home in Emeryville.

That person was Megan Sand, now 64, of Oceanside (in San Diego County), who also was awake at 1 a.m. because “I had a lot of stuff on the brain.” After chatting online, they then chatted on the phone that night.

“We had a great conversation,” she said recently. “We were instantly attracted to each other. It was wonderful. We spoke every night for two months straight.”

And they could sense it — even before their first in-person meeting: “What we have in common is incredible,” said Sand.

And the rest, as they say, is history. The two have been married for almost a year. They got married in October 2010 at the Clipper Clubhouse at the Watergate condominium complex in Emeryville.

Their tale is not entirely storybook, however. More than a decade ago, Berman was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease. He told Sand about his illness early on.

“I believe in full disclosure,” he said. “No one knows exactly where the disease will go. There’s no cure, but they’ve found various medications that reduce the symptoms.”

For Sand, her husband’s illness wasn’t a deterrent but a challenge. She put him on a gluten-free diet, and he lost 15 pounds. She advocates with him for answers from doctors who aren’t always forthcoming.

“She’s my warrior,” said Berman, who had a long career as a lawyer.

Megan Sand watches her new husband, David Berman, break the glass at the Watergate complex in Emeryville.

“They have a mutually beneficial relationship based on love, caring and commitment,” said Amy Blasenheim, a friend and Oakland resident who is a masseuse at the Downtown Oakland Senior Center.

“It’s not an easy illness to deal with,” added Blasenheim, who recently lost her father to Parkinson’s. “There are always new challenges that come up.”

Meanwhile, Berman and Sand pursue a range of activities that include walking, taking classes at U.C. Berkeley’s Osher Lifelong Learning Institute and dining out.

Another shared love is music. “We both like a variety — symphony, folk, jazz,” said Berman, who still plays the saxophone.

“It’s the easiest instrument for a person with Parkinson’s. It’s very forgiving,” he said. He used to play the violin and clarinet, as well.

“I sing. David sings,” Sand added. Both are in an East Bay chorus, the Tremolos, that was started by PD Active, a group of people in the Oakland-Berkeley area who have Parkinson’s. Music is thought to slow the progression of the disease, according to a website about Parkinson’s disease. “We have music on every time we sit down at home for dinner,” Sand said.

In addition to their shared interests, they also have a similar backgrounds: Eastern European Jewish roots and some time living in Brooklyn (Berman as a youth, Sand as an adult). From her time there, Sand said, “I knew exactly where he grew up.”

Both are divorced and well-educated. He was an undergraduate at the University of Michigan, received a masters in economics from U.C. Berkeley and a law degree from the University of Chicago.

She has a bachelor’s degree in sociology from Cleveland State University and a masters in sociology and gerontology from Kent State University.

Each had a varied career. Sand sold pharmaceuticals, had her own clothing business, taught nursery school, was a professional photographer and, most recently, drummed up clients for a firm that created websites for lawyers.

Berman, a former board member at Conservative Congregation Netivot Shalom in Berkeley, worked for the government and later co-headed his own law firm. He dabbled in entertainment law, representing the likes of Peter Yarrow of Peter, Paul and Mary and guitarist-songwriter John Sebastian (after he left the Lovin’ Spoonful).

“He’s a very bright guy. He doesn’t want to be catered to,” said his former law partner, Dan Berkley of San Francisco. “Megan [Sand] gets that. The most important thing is that she will offer support and still challenge him.

“She doesn’t treat him as someone who has an affliction.”