Harriet Weiss and Anna Krzanowicz’s Story

“We’re Laverne and Shirley — that’s what people call us,” say Harriet Weiss and Anna Krzanowicz, St. John’s Home residents, who have been friends for almost three years.

Accordingly, the two agree that they cannot imagine life without one another. “It was fate,” says Anna, about how these two inseparable ladies came to meet.

Harriet and Anna

The two met at St. John’s Home back in 2020 when Harriet moved to the Reservoir Building after brief stays for rehabilitation. “I love it here, though it was a hard decision to move out of my home,” says Harriet. “But after Larry passed away — I knew I didn’t want to be alone.” Harriet’s late husband, Larry spent his final years at St. John’s Home, so choosing to move to St. John’s made the decision easier. “St. John’s was the only one on my list; I didn’t want to go anywhere else.”

Harriet would not be alone for long. Only two doors down, she would find herself a new best friend, or as the duo says, “Sister.”

“Our thoughts are very much the same, but I learn a lot from her,” says Anna. Anna moved to Germany from Latvia during the Russian invasion when she was just 13 years old and after six years, she immigrated to America.

Harriet’s late husband Larry was a Holocaust survivor who left Germany for America around the same time as Anna. Harriet and Anna take pride in knowing that they share similar backgrounds from “the old country.”

“Our families are from the same area in the old country, and somehow both ended up here in Rochester,” says Harriet who is a Bronx native.

“We are more than friends — we’re family.” The two take a break from sharing sentimental remarks to avoid crying, as Anna says, “Oh, Harriet don’t you cry, I will cry too.”

Harriet and Anna passing out Halloween candy with Anna’s daughter.

The best friends say they share each other’s families. “I text Anna’s daughter more than she does,” says Harriet with a laugh. They say that having each other’s families in their lives makes them feel whole.

Harriet’s family recently visited from out of town to throw a surprise 80th birthday for her — to which Anna and her family attended. “I was so mad at Anna, she kept it a secret,” says Harriet unconvincingly, “but it was so great.”

The two not only share families, but they also share a love of learning. “It means a lot,” says Anna. Harriet adds “you are never too old to learn.”

Harriet and Anna can be seen attending the many programs and events offered at St. John’s Home — including Jewish celebrations. “Harriet invited me and now I just go — it is good to learn,” says Anna who now attends every religious service her friend goes to.

Harriet adds that “Anna is a cheap date,” regarding Anna not enjoying alcohol. “You know,” Harriet says, “we drink a lot of wine at Jewish holidays, and she can’t handle even a whiff of it. But that’s okay; I drink for the two of us.” The two laugh.

“Laverne and Shirley,” was a popular sitcom from the late 70s about two friends.

The pair is excited for warmer weather as they have their own special seating in the courtyard. “Everyone knows not to sit there — they are Harriet and Anna’s spots,” says Harriet, half- jokingly.

The well-known friends who do everything together say that staff and fellow residents know that where there is one, the other is not too far behind. “They call us Laverne and Shirley — from the show — everyone knows us, and it is nice to be known.”

“We have so many things in common to talk about,” says Anna. “It really is like fate,” adds Harriet, “and I couldn’t imagine being here without her.”