The Italian-American Couple of the Year has barely been an official pair for that duration, but they're smitten with each other and the new Mineola street sign bearing their names.
A local council of the Knights of Columbus, a Catholic fraternal organization, honored Carl and Rosemary Marchese with the designation at an Oct. 10 ceremony.
Carl Marchese, 76, is commander of American Legion Post 349 in Mineola. The Army veteran and retired CPA said he doesn't get nervous easily, but admitted that he had butterflies in his stomach at the ceremony. His wife said she felt pride.
"He's got the roots in the community of 45 years, but it just made my heart swell to think that people loved him enough to want to honor him with this and drag me along," said Rosemary Marchese, 65, a medical technician at North Shore Cardiology in Lake Success. "I love being his wife. I love being at his side."
Latham Road in Mineola, the street Carl Marchese has lived on for more than four decades, was renamed Carl and Rosemary Marchese Road for a year. The couple was also given commendations by Mineola Village Mayor Scott Strauss and state Sen. Jack M. Martins (R-Mineola).
Martins, a longtime friend of Carl Marchese, said there wasn't a couple more deserving of the award.
"What a beautiful couple and what a great opportunity," Martins said. "It's rare we're able to find a soul mate in our life; I'm glad to see that Carl is happy and has found a soul mate."
The award has been given out annually for more than a decade, said Bill Kessler, who chairs the Italian-American event committee. Italian-American members with years of council service are eligible, and Kessler said he takes into account a nominee's impact on the organization.
The Marcheses met for their first date just over a year ago at a diner after seeing each other's profiles on an online dating site. The meeting, originally planned for 30 minutes, lasted four hours. The two said they bonded over their strong Christian faith and their shared experiences -- both have been widowed twice and also have children who died.
They exchanged emails daily until their first date.
"It was like meeting a friend who I hadn't seen in a while," Rosemary Marchese said. Three months later, they were at an American Legion event when Carl Marchese floated the idea of marriage.
" 'Tempus fugit, memento mori,' as we say in the Knights of Columbus," Marchese said of the phrase, which means "time flies, remember death." "Time flies and neither one of us was getting any younger. If this was the woman I wanted to spend my life with, whatever God gives me in the way of life, I wanted to seize the moment. And I knew she was the right one."
His wife said she had not anticipated marrying again, but realized when she met her husband that something had been missing.
At their wedding on Oct. 4, 2014, her son, Richard, 39, a Navy commander, walked his mother down the aisle at Corpus Christi Church in Mineola. The groom saluted him and asked for permission to marry the bride, who is not Italian-American but said she loves her husband's marinara sauce.
When she stumbled over the pronunciation of an Italian surname, Carl had a quick answer.
"I'll teach you Italian," he said.