Noodles, boxed wine led to love

| January 29, 2020 | 1 Comment

David Skaggs and
Valerie Ulene

Dr. David Skaggs and Dr. Valerie Ulene met during their medical school years at Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons in the late 1980s. The first encounter was unremarkable save for the memory of Val’s voice, which resonated with David, and the image of David eating ramen noodles in his apartment with his mother, which “sort of” stayed with Val.

During that early meeting, Val was dating David’s roommate during David’s third year at med school. Their encounter happened in David and the roommate’s dingy apartment, which David’s mother, living close by in New Jersey where David grew up, would frequent, bringing sustenance. David honors his late mother’s name, pointing out that “she was not responsible for the ramen noodles that day.” Val said the meeting was cursory, but the two struck up a conversation at a party a few weeks later, having remembered one another from the apartment encounter. By this point, the relationship with David’s roommate had ended. “It was not happening,” Val explained. David ended up walking Val home that night, to her Washington Heights apartment in New York City, “not a pleasant place to walk at that time,” and the rest, they say, is history.

Noodles continued to feature in the first three dates, all of which took place at an all-you-can-drink Chinese restaurant on the Upper West Side. “There was always a line out the door, and they served boxed wine to the waiting patrons to keep everyone at bay.” Happily, boxed wine and Chinese eventually turned into more eclectic and “grown-up” fare during any of their free time spent together. They dated all through medical school, arranging residencies around one another to be in the same town at the same time.

David and Val married in Deer Valley, Utah in June of ’92, after the completion of her surgery residency. The bride’s parents had a home there, and she had worked as a ski hostess during the year between graduating from Princeton and going to medical school. (David completed undergrad at Amherst). Having retreated to Deer Valley many times since becoming a couple, they thought the setting would be idyllic. “This was before destination weddings were really a thing, and we had many friends and David’s family on the East Coast. We thought it would cut down on the numbers, but we had a pretty good return on invites,” Val recalled.

After graduating from medical school, it was back to Los Angeles (home for Val’s family), to settle into their Plymouth Blvd. home, start a family and continue their professional journeys. David is the chair of Orthopedic Surgery at Children’s Hospital Los Angeles and Val (a preventative medicine physician who also completed boards in public health) co-founded and operates Clear Health Advisors. Their three children are following in their lofty footsteps; Kira, who attended Marlborough School and Amherst College, is pursuing medicine at Columbia; Jamie (Harvard Westlake and Yale) is also living in New York (“that they’re together in New York is just so great,” Val gushes); and Clay will graduate from Harvard Westlake this spring.

The Ulene-Skaggs duo seems to have made all the right moves. “Well, except selling our first house in Edgewater, New Jersey just across the George Washington Bridge. I loved that house. It was just a little 800-square-foot thing, but it overlooked the Hudson and was so perfect. To think, Kira or Jamie could be living there now,” Val pines. Not one to dwell, she’s moving on to thoughts of “empty nesters’’ status and a kitchen renovation for the Plymouth house.

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Category: People

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