Long Island love stories

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In Newsday's LI Life section, Long Island couples recall how they met and explain how their love remains strong. Here is a recap of some of their stories from the past few years. (For the full story, click the links in blue.)

Gerry and Sandra Bogatz, North Bellmore

Gerald
(Credit: Bogatz family)

Gerald "Gerry" and Sandra Bogatz of North Bellmore have been married 65 years. Gerry recalls how it all started: I grew up across the street from my future wife, Sandra Rubin, on East 92nd Street in East Flatbush, Brooklyn. My best friend, Charlie Hudes, and I were invited to a beach party at a friend's house in Neponsit, Queens, located on Rockaway Peninsula. Charlie approached Sandra and her best friend, Bernice Goldstein, and asked them to join us. They accepted the invitation.

Early in the evening at the party, Charlie paired off with Sandra and I was with Bernice. A bonfire was built on the beach, and while we were cooking hamburgers and hot dogs and roasting marshmallows, we somehow switched partners. Sandra and I struck up a conversation. By the end of the night, I knew that Sandra would be my soul mate and the love of my life. I proposed to Sandra on Dec. 19, 1949. To save up money for our wedding, she got a job as a bookkeeper and I switched to night classes so I could work during the day.

On Nov. 22, 1950, we were married at the DeLuxe Palace in East Flatbush, Brooklyn. In 1958, Sandra and I moved to North Bellmore (we are the last original owners on the block), where we raised our family. In November, we celebrated our 65th anniversary with a family dinner at our favorite restaurant, The Carltun in Eisenhower Park in East Meadow.-- With Virginia Dunleavy

Rochelle and Ron Alexenburg of Woodbury

Rochelle and Ron Alexenburg of Woodbury fell in
(Credit: Alexenburg family)

Rochelle and Ron Alexenburg of Woodbury fell in love sight unseen. Ron recalls their courtship: In September 1964, I met Rochelle Prusher on the telephone. Over the next two months we spoke almost daily at work and began calling each other at home. We hadn't met in person because I lived in Chicago and she lived in Flushing, Queens.

That November I asked Rochelle if she'd go out with me on New Year's Eve. I would fly to New York. She said yes. On Dec. 30, we saw each other for the first time and we were not disappointed. New Year's Eve was magical, even though I hadn't made reservations and we waited almost two hours to be seated. At midnight, balloons fell down around us. I grabbed one and put it in front of our faces as I kissed Rochelle for the first time. Later, on our way to Rochelle's house, a drunken man on the crowded subway train asked, "You gonna' marry her?" We both laughed. When we got off the train to catch a bus, another drunken man asked the same thing. I teasingly accused Rochelle of paying them off. Back home in Chicago, my mom asked me about the date and I replied, "I could marry that girl."

We married on Jan. 23, 1966, at a catering hall in Forest Hills during a snowstorm that kept many of our guests from attending. We had an early 50th anniversary celebration with a family trip to Palm Springs, California. On our actual anniversary date, Mother Nature got involved again, this time with a blizzard.-- With Virginia Dunleavy

Craig Steinmetz and Donna Zirbes-Steinmetz, Lindenhurst

Craig Steinmetz and Donna Zirbes-Steinmetz of Lindenhurst were
(Credit: Steinmetz family)

Craig Steinmetz and Donna Zirbes-Steinmetz of Lindenhurst were given a second chance at love. Donna recalls how they met: I lost my soul mate, my husband Joe, to cancer in May 2004. We were married for 15 years and had bought our first house in Lindenhurst two years before his death. He was such a great guy.

While he was in hospice, he encouraged me to move on with my life and find someone else. That was easier said than done. I wanted him and nobody else. After his death, I would go to work, come home and stare at the ceiling.

Joe handled our banking, so I began meeting with one of the bankers at Astoria Bank in Babylon almost every day for two months. One day she told me about a customer who had lost his wife in March. She said he was a very nice man and, like me, ran his own business. She asked if she could give him my telephone number. I said no, but over our next couple of meetings she gently persuaded me to pass along my beeper number. Two weeks later, an unknown number appeared on my beeper. I called and Craig introduced himself as the man the banker had told me about. We talked for almost two hours, about his wife Cindy and about Joe and what we were going through.

We spoke three more times before Craig asked about meeting for coffee. I agreed and we met at Borders Books in Farmingdale. Again, it was nice to talk to him. Afterward, he said it was up to me if I wanted to call him again. I did call him and he asked me to dinner. It took a long time for us to get over the feeling that we were cheating on our spouses. We continued dating and, a year later, we realized we had fallen in love. We married on Nov. 21, 2013, nine years after we met, at the Town of Babylon Town Hall. In 2015, we celebrated our second anniversary and look forward to a long future together. I've been blessed and very thankful to have had two beautiful men in my life.-- With Virginia Dunleavy

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Margaret and Alan Simon

Alan Simon of Moriches recalls the day he
(Credit: Simon family)

Alan Simon of Moriches recalls the day he met his future wife, Margaret: In the summer of 1958, I was hanging out at Frank's Luncheonette on Main Street in South Farmingdale when two girls I didn't know walked in the front door. Someone introduced me to them. One of the girls was Margaret Steuer. She flashed a smile at me that left me silently saying, "Wow!" She was 14 and I was 17.

I did not see Margaret again until the fall, when classes started at Weldon E. Howitt High School. As fate would have it, I wound up sitting directly behind Margaret in geometry class. She says she had a hard time in that class because I kept teasing and distracting her. That was entirely possible, mainly because I had become so attracted to her. We began dating, would break up and then start dating again. Margaret graduated in 1961, and we became a steady couple.

We were married on May 14, 1967, at St. Luke's Evangelical Lutheran Church in Farmingdale. We have one daughter, and she and our son-in-law have given us two beautiful grandsons.-- With Virginia Dunleavy

John and Phyllis Whimple of Miller Place

John Whimple of Miller Place recalls his first
(Credit: Whimple family)

John Whimple of Miller Place recalls his first date with his future wife, Phyllis: I met Phyllis Bernstein in 1972 through a group of friends in our Sheepshead Bay neighborhood in Brooklyn. We would usually hang out at one friend's house in particular on 16th Street.

I was always attracted to Phyllis but didn't ask her on a date until four years later. At the time she worked at The Franklin Savings Bank in Sheepshead Bay and I was an officer with the NYPD. We both attended evening classes at Kingsborough Community College. On Feb. 25, 1976, I stopped at her bank and asked if she would like to meet me after classes that night and go for coffee at our local Foursome Diner. She agreed, and we met that evening after class and walked over to my Volkswagen Beetle. Once inside the car, I lit up a cigar before starting the engine. Phyllis was bothered by the smoke and politely said, "I'm sorry, but I can't be in this small car with the cigar smoke." I immediately rolled down my window and threw the cigar out. I had been smoking cigars since 1969 and enjoyed it, but that was the last time I ever smoked. I quit just to be with her, and she probably saved my life.

From our first date we were a couple and spent all our time together. Then, after 16 years as a couple, we decided to get married and start a family. On March 15, 1992, we had a small wedding at a friend's home with just a handful of family members and friends. We moved to Miller Place in 1994. I am very lucky. Phyllis has made my life complete. She is my best friend. We have been together for more than four decades now, and our love has only gotten stronger.-- With Virginia Dunleavy

Roy and Irene Willis of Massapequa

Roy Willis of Massapequa recalls the day he
(Credit: Willis family)

Roy Willis of Massapequa recalls the day he met his future wife, Irene: In 1947, I was 19 and serving in the Naval Reserves as a yeoman second class. My buddy and I were just back from a tour of duty in Cuba on the aircraft carrier USS Leyte CV32. I lived in Rego Park, Queens, and we decided to go to the Valencia Theater in Jamaica to see the film "Captain from Castile," starring Tyrone Power and Jean Peters. Inside the theater we saw two girls and decided to sit next to them and strike up a conversation. I was dazzled by the younger girl. She was strikingly beautiful, with the most appealing blue eyes. Her name was Irene Wimmer. She was 15 and a sophomore at Andrew Jackson High School in Cambria Heights.

I managed to get her telephone number and, after calling her a couple of times, she finally agreed to go on a date. We continued dating, going to the dances, having picnics at Cunningham Park near her home, skating at the Queens Roller Rink in Rego Park or going into Manhattan.

We wed on April 13, 1952, at Sts. Joachim and Anne Church in Queens Village then drove our new 1952 Plymouth Concord to St. Augustine and Daytona Beach, Florida for our honeymoon. In 1958 we moved to Massapequa, and the following year I completed my service with the Naval Reserves. We surely have been blessed, and the years have been kind. Irene is 85 and I am 88. She is still as beautiful as ever and has a personality such that all who meet her just fall under her spell. I think she mesmerized me from the start and I am totally grateful for it. I hug and kiss her every morning and every night. She's a treasure worth keeping.-- With Virginia Dunleavy

Ginny and Tony Conte of Floral Park

Ginny Conte of Floral Park recalls the circumstances
(Credit: Conte family)

Ginny Conte of Floral Park recalls the circumstances that brought her and future husband Tony together: Tony and I met in 1985 when I was dating his brother. I never liked him; I thought he was smug.

In 1991, my husband died. At the funeral Tony took on the responsibility as my brother-in-law, never leaving my side, showing support, love and compassion. He continued being supportive, and we would meet once a week at my home for dinner. I had three children who were 3, 7 and 10, and we lived in Floral Park. Tony was separated from his wife but would bring his two children, who were 9 and 11, with him. A few months later, he asked me if I wanted to go someplace without the children, so we went out for drinks and to a dance club in Huntington. We realized then that we were falling in love and became inseparable.

After Tony's divorce became final in 1993, we went into Manhattan to see the Broadway musical "Tommy," and then to dinner. At the restaurant, I saw Barry Manilow sitting nearby and was so preoccupied watching him that it took me a moment to realize that Tony was getting down on one knee and holding an engagement ring. I said "yes" and the other diners clapped and congratulated us. We were married on Jan. 9, 1994, in my home. In 2006 we bought our home in Floral Park. He is and always will be my love, my life, my everything! -- With Virginia Dunleavy

Diane and Michael Grannum of Baldwin

Diane Grannum of Baldwin recalls her childhood friendship
(Credit: Grannum family)

Diane Grannum of Baldwin recalls her childhood friendship with future husband Michael: Our story begins with our fathers, who knew each other in the 1940s before we were born. After serving in World War II, they returned home to Brooklyn and each married. Our families, the Pankeys and the Grannums, lived on Decatur Street. I remember Michael from the early 1950s when I was 6 and he was 9.

In 1960, my family moved to St. Albans, Queens. His family moved to Flatbush in 1964. Eventually, my parents divorced, as did Michael's, but his father remained a close family friend. One day in the summer of 1970, he brought Michael with him to our house for a visit. I wasn't at all interested in him, but he kept coming back to see me. I kept telling him not to come back, but that didn't stop him. I did find Michael to be funny, interesting, sincere and intelligent. He was, and still is, very romantic. Within a few months we became best friends. Before he went back to finish his senior year at college, he proposed and I accepted. Our parents responded with shock when we told them of our decision to marry. They weren't happy. I guessed that they were afraid for us since their marriages hadn't lasted. They did cooperate with our wedding plans, and on March 4, 1972, we were married at St. Francis of Assisi Church on Maple Street in Brooklyn.

This year, Michael and I celebrated our 45th anniversary with family and friends at our second home in the Pocono Mountains. Michael continues to be my best friend and is an incredible person and husband. -- With Virginia Dunleavy

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Lucy and Steve Seitz of Huntington

Lucy Seitz of Huntington recalls how she met
(Credit: Seitz family)

Lucy Seitz of Huntington recalls how she met her husband, Steve: We were both 18 and were sophomores at neighboring colleges in Pennsylvania. The previous week I was told that a classmate was looking for me. She was going to a party with her boyfriend and wanted to know whether I'd go with his friend, Steve.

Steve and I discovered we were both from Long Island; I lived in Garden City and he was from Huntington. He said that he would like to see me again. I was very pleased, but three weeks passed with no word! I decided to call Steve and invite him to an event. The phone call went like this: Me: "Steve, hi, this is Lucy Bliss." Steve: "Lucy who?" When Steve came to his senses, he said that he had just awakened from a nap. He accepted my invitation; we continued dating at school and when we were on Long Island on vacation. Steve and I were married on Sept. 10, 1967, at St. Anne's Church in Garden City. This year we will celebrate our 50th wedding anniversary. We lost touch with the classmate who introduced us, but I want to thank her. And thank you, Steve, for 53 amazing years together and for allowing me to tell the "Lucy, who?" story one more time. -- With Virginia Dunleavy

Alexis and Sean Lazarus of Commack

Alexis Lazarus of Commack recalls meeting her future
(Credit: Gina Esposito)

Alexis Lazarus of Commack recalls meeting her future husband, Sean, and his dog: In 2011, I was 22 and working on my master's degree in speech-language pathology at the Brookville campus of LIU Post. When I arrived one day I saw a man walking his dog and asked permission to pet her. Her name was Jasmine and she was a chow/Shar-Pei mix. She growled and barked at me.

I saw them a few days later. This time Sean Lazarus introduced himself. I told him my name was Alexis Gaines. We started chatting. He graduated from Arizona State University and was working as the assistant director of student conduct at LIU. Sean adopted Jasmine while in Arizona. She was a rescue dog that had been found in the desert. I tried to pet her again, but she was still apprehensive. After a few more encounters, Sean asked for my phone number and a date.

Sean grew up in Jamesport. His family still lived there and we spent most of our courtship visiting the North Fork. One day in November 2012, we drove to the Clovis Point Winery in Jamesport. Although it was a warm day, Sean had on a coat that was completely buttoned, and he was sweating. At the winery, Sean asked one of the staff to take our picture outside. As I stood facing the camera, he got on one knee, took an engagement ring from inside his coat and proposed. We were married on Oct. 12, 2014, at Carlyle on the Green at Bethpage State Park. Sean is an avid golfer, so walking barefoot on Bethpage Black in a wedding dress and tuxedo on a gorgeous day was truly incredible. Sean's mom, Kathi, had passed away a few months earlier, so we like to think the beautiful, sunny weather was from her.

We bought our house in Commack in 2015 and in September 2016 we welcomed our baby daughter. In addition to Jasmine (who eventually accepted me), we have my dog and two rescue cats. -- With Virginia Dunleavy

Phyllis and Fred Cohen of Massapequa

Fred Cohen of Massapequa recalls how he met
(Credit: Cohen family)

Fred Cohen of Massapequa recalls how he met his future wife, Phyllis: In 1963, I was regularly hanging out at my friend's house. When he left on a cross-country trip for the summer, I began evening classes at school. To save bus fare, I went everywhere by bicycle. I continued taking the long detour to his house on my way home from class to visit with his mother and sisters. They weren't home one evening, so I kept riding until I heard a voice yell, "Fred, you dropped your cigarettes." It was their next-door neighbor. I stopped to thank her and she introduced me to her friend, Phyllis. I stayed for a half-hour to talk and flirt, and made her house a regular stop on my ride home. I wanted to ask Phyllis out without the complications of an audience, but her friend was always there. I didn't know Phyllis' last name; however, I did notice a letter K embossed on the aluminum screen door below her house number. I then did what any innovative but cowardly 19-year-old would do in the early 1960s. I took the 1,200-page Brooklyn telephone book, and began scanning the letter "K" section, looking for her address.

After an hour or two of frustration, I finally found it near the end -- "Kriftcher." Not being the coolest Popsicle in the freezer, I called with trepidation and the fear of rejection that only a teenager knows. Fortunately, Phyllis was as eager to receive the phone call as I was to make it, surprised that I hadn't asked her for her number. Dating turned into an engagement in April 1965. We were married at Congregation B'nai Israel of Midwood on Aug. 21, 1966, and we moved to Massapequa in 1971. I still ride, only now with Phyllis, on a tandem bike that brings us even closer together. -- With Virginia Dunleavy

Lillian and Lloyd Baum of Long Beach

Lillian Baum of Long Beach explains how a
(Credit: Baum family)

Lillian Baum of Long Beach explains how a rumor brought her and future husband Lloyd together: In 1974, I was 23 years old and living with my family in Queens Village. We were all fans of the New York Islanders. My younger sister and I belonged to the NY Islanders Booster Club, which held social events and organized trips to out-of-town hockey games. That March, my sister and her friends decided to sign up for the club's bus trip to a game in Toronto. They'd be staying at a hotel in Buffalo. Somehow a rumor got started that if you were under 18 years of age, you needed a chaperone to cross the border into Canada. Since my sister and her friends were not yet 18, I was reluctantly drafted to accompany them by one friend's mother. I'm very happy she persuaded me to go, because one of the booster members on the bus was my future husband, Lloyd Baum.

When we got to Buffalo, some of the group went to Niagara Falls. I stayed behind with the rest of the group, including Lloyd, and we explored Buffalo. Lloyd and I started talking. He was 25 and lived in Hewlett. By the time we got back home, Lloyd asked me for a date. I was seeing someone else at the time, so I turned him down.

Several months later we were both at a Booster Club dance and he asked me out again. This time I said yes. Our first date was to see the movie "Blazing Saddles." We continued dating and became engaged in June 1975. Our wedding was on Dec. 7, 1975, at the Huntington Town House. We remained Islanders season ticket holders for many years. We will always look back fondly on our days with the Islanders. I still tease Lloyd that he owes me a trip back to Buffalo since we didn't get to see Niagara Falls on our first visit. -- With Virginia Dunleavy

Donald and Doris Bayles of Southold

Donald Bayles of Southold recalls the day he
(Credit: Bayles family)

Donald Bayles of Southold recalls the day he began courting future wife Doris: I was born in 1923 and grew up in Middle Island which was mostly farmland in those days. I went to the only high school in the area, Port Jefferson High School, and rode the bus to school with students from surrounding communities, including my future wife, Virginia Doris Faron of Coram. We also attended the same church, Middle Island Presbyterian, but I never had occasion to speak to her, except to say "hello."

In May 1946, I was at an auction in Middle Island when a fetching young woman approached me. It was Doris...we began strolling through a nearby apple orchard. That was our first date. We continued dating and by summer's end we decided to get married. On Sept. 1, 1946, we exchanged vows at Coram Methodist Church. I accepted a position as a civil engineer with the Tennessee Valley Authority. We lived in Knoxville for four years, then briefly lived in Huntington and Providence before returning to Coram in 1953. In 1973 we bought land in Southold and built our present home. Now in our early nineties, we still reminisce about our lives together. To celebrate our 70th wedding anniversary on Sept. 1, 2016, we were treated to a wonderful open house at our home with the many friends and relatives who have kept us healthy and feeling great. We consider ourselves a very lucky couple indeed.--With Virginia Dunleavy

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Fred and Ethel Meuser of Ridge

Fred Meuser of Ridge recalls the day
(Credit: Meuser family)

Fred Meuser of Ridge recalls the day he first saw his future wife, Ethel: It was a sunny summer weekend in 1955 when my friends and I decided to drive from our Queens Village neighborhood to Jones Beach. I first spotted her in the water. I couldn't take my eyes off her, and had to figure out a way to meet her. I made my way into the water, and finally got up the nerve to strike up a conversation. Being the kidder that I am, I asked her if she had the time, and she kind of smirked. She was polite, but that initial encounter didn't go beyond small talk. I was able to find out her name was "Ethie," short for Ethel, and that she also was from Queens Village. She was with her cousin. They decided to leave the water and disappeared onto the beach before I could get her telephone number.

For the next three weeks or so I drove up and down every single street in Queens Village trying to find Ethie, but to no avail. Several weekends later I went back to Jones Beach with the hope that I would see her again. Sometimes fate works in strange ways, and lo and behold, while swimming in the surf, I spotted her standing on the shoreline. I waded over and said, "Where have you been?" She replied, "What do you mean?" When I told her I'd been looking for her, she said I misunderstood. She had told me she used to live in Queens Village but had moved to Elmont. For our first date I took Ethie to the movies at the former Argo Theater in Elmont. We continued dating and were married at Grace Lutheran Church in Queens Village on May 19, 1956. In May we celebrated our 60th anniversary with family and friends at Piccola Bussola restaurant in Huntington.-- With Virginia Dunleavy

Dave and Dorothy Rosen

Dave and Dorothy Rosen, formerly of Woodmere,
(Credit: Rosen Family)

Dave and Dorothy Rosen, formerly of Woodmere, recently marked their 69th wedding anniversary. Dave recalls the night they met at a big-band dance: I was 24 and living on the Lower East Side in 1946. One night in February, my best buddy Tootsie and I were hanging out at the Hotel Pennsylvania in Manhattan. The hotel held a dance every other week that featured a big band. It wasn't long before I spotted a pretty blonde and devised a plan where Tootsie would ask her to dance and I would cut in on them. He agreed, and after they danced a few turns I came over and tapped him on the shoulder. Now I was dancing with the pretty blonde, Dorothy Newman from Far Rockaway. We danced and laughed and had fun the rest of the evening.

Before we left to go home, I asked for her telephone number. She gave it to me, but when I didn't write it down, she doubted I'd remember it and later told her friend that she probably would never hear from me. I've always had a good memory for numbers and called her a week later.

We continued seeing each other, usually twice a week. Dorothy and I exchanged vows on June 15, 1947, at the Broadway Central Hotel in Manhattan. To this day, at age 94, I remember Dorothy's telephone number. FA7-3351 is etched in my brain.-- With Virginia Dunleavy

Rene and Bill Boyce of Levittown

Irene
(Credit: Boyce family)

Irene "Rene" and Bill Boyce of Levittown didn't get off on the right foot when they met. Bill explains: In November 1951, I met my future wife, Rene O'Connell. Her brother Jack, a friend of mine, invited me and a few other guys to Rene's party, without telling her, at their home in Cambria Heights, Queens. We showed up with a superior attitude, ignoring the younger kids there. At one point Rene divided the room with a line of chairs and said, "Since you won't talk or dance with us, stay on this side." Later, when I walked to the "other" side on my way to the bathroom, she stopped me and asked, "Where do you think you're going?" The fact that she stood up to me made her very attractive.

It took a while, but I finally asked her on a date in January 1952, and continued dating. In January 1953 I enlisted in the Air Force. Our courtship was kept alive through our letters, and on Rene's 18th birthday in July 1954 we got engaged. On June 4, 1955, we exchanged vows at Sacred Heart Church in Cambria Heights. We recently celebrated our 61st anniversary with a trip to Cape Cod.-- With Virginia Dunleavy

Paul and Karen Arfin of Hauppauge

Paul and Karen Arfin of Hauppauge knew immediately
(Credit: Arfin family)

Paul and Karen Arfin of Hauppauge knew immediately that they were meant to be together. Paul explains.

In June 1967, I was director of the Community Development for Youth, a nonprofit organization in Huntington, when I interviewed Karen Wildman for a summer job counseling at-risk teens. She was 22, lived in Elwood and had just graduated from SUNY Oneonta. I was 27 and lived in Huntington. As part of the interview process, I invited Karen to chaperone a dance to see how she related to teens. After the dance, I asked her to have a drink at Finnegan's Bar in Huntington. It turned out to be our first date and the beginning of a lifetime commitment to one another.

I hired Karen and we continued dating. I proposed to Karen just two weeks after we met. We were married on Sept. 3, 1967, in Levittown at the home of friends of Karen's family. In 1970 we moved from Huntington to Sound Beach. We have two daughters, a son-in-law and two granddaughters. This year Karen and I celebrated our 49th anniversary with a riverboat cruise through Eastern Europe. For our 50th anniversary next year we plan trips to Colombia and Spain. -- With Virginia Dunleavy

Cindy and Michael Federico Sr. of Lake Grove

Michael Federico Sr. of Lake Grove recalls how
(Credit: Federico family)

Michael Federico Sr. of Lake Grove recalls how he waited to begin courting his future wife, Cindy: I was 16 years old in 1961 when a girl from Franklin Square moved to my block in Floral Park. She said she'd introduce us to her friends...we met her girlfriends, including Cindy Scandura. I liked Cindy, but she was only 13, too young for me to date. Since she wasn't allowed to go anywhere with us older guys, we began hanging out with her and her friends...we then lost track of each other until fate struck.

In February 1964, a buddy of mine had spotted Cindy one day at work...I made my way to [his job]...she wasn't there, but I noticed some girls and asked whether they knew Cindy. One girl said she did. I...asked her to call her for me. I spoke to Cindy and, even after all that time apart, we picked up right where we left off.

Cindy and I married on Nov. 9, 1968, at Sacred Heart Church in North Merrick, followed by a reception at The Galaxy in Plainview. We have three wonderful children -- two sons and a daughter -- two terrific daughters-in-law, a great son-in-law and nine beautiful grandchildren. For the past 47 years, Cindy and I have been working side by side running our family's business, Liberty Moving and Storage in Commack...the hard work was made so much easier with a great partner by my side, and I thank her every day. -- With Virginia Dunleavy

Antoinette and Vinny Iannucci of Westbury

Antoinette Iannucci of Westbury recalls the unique way
(Credit: Iannucci family)

Antoinette Iannucci of Westbury recalls the unique way she introduced herself to future husband Vinny: In 1971, I was 14 and staying with my grandparents in Durazzano, Italy. My parents had moved from there to the United States and settled in Westbury before I was born.

One day I was on the rooftop of my grandparents' home when I saw Vinny walking past the house. He was 16 and lived down the block. We hadn't formally met, but I had noticed him before. He was so cute. I wanted to get his attention so I threw a clothespin down and hit him on the head. He yelled in pain (I was two stories high), looked up at me, then kept walking. Not long after that, I took a bus to the beach with a group of friends. Vinny came along. At one point he was standing near me, grabbed my hand and smiled at me. I melted. Over the next three weeks we started hanging out together with our friends.

When I returned home, Vinny and I wrote to each other often. The following summer my parents and I went back to Italy. Vinny met with my father and was given permission to go out with me. After our visit ended, we continued our courtship by mail. In 1973, Vinny moved to Westbury. We continued dating, usually going bowling or to the movies.

In 1975, he proposed to me on my 18th birthday. We married on Oct. 16, 1976, at St. Brigid Catholic Church in Westbury. We have two children, a daughter-in-law and a soon-to-be son-in-law, whom we love dearly. For our 25th anniversary, we renewed our vows at St. Brigid Church, where we were wed. To mark our 40th anniversary, we stayed at the Villa Roma resort in upstate Sullivan County. We feel being together for 40 years is celebration enough. --With Virginia Dunleavy

Anthony and Addie Cuoco of Bellmore

Anthony and Adeline
(Credit: Cuoco Family)

Anthony and Adeline "Addie" Cuoco of Bellmore had an office friendship that turned into love. Anthony recalls the day it happened: My wife and I met in 1955. We both worked in the order room at Carlyle and Jacklin on Wall Street in Manhattan with about 100 other people. We would talk every day and socialize at the company's Christmas parties. Every so often my manager would say, "You should ask Addie out. She likes you." I didn't know that he was also telling Addie that I liked her and that she should go out with me. Addie and I did like each other, but she didn't seem interested in me as a boyfriend.

Seven years later, I sensed a change in Addie and decided to ask her on a date. She agreed and we went on our first date. Our second date was three weeks later at a New Year's Eve party. When I got home I told my mother that I was going to marry Addie. A couple of months later, I wanted to give Addie a gift. When I asked about getting her a birthstone ring she replied, "I have a birthstone ring. I'd rather have an engagement ring." On Nov. 23, 1963, we were married at Our Lady of Peace Church in Brooklyn. In September 1965 we moved from our apartment in Brooklyn to our home in Bellmore. Last month we celebrated our 53rd anniversary at a dinner with our family.

My wife means the world to me. She takes very good care of me and our children and grandchildren. We take very good care of each other. We don't know what we would do without each other. -- With Virginia Dunleavy

Rich and Jo-Ann Bartumioli of Melville

Rich Bartumioli of Melville recalls the day he
(Credit: Bartumioli family)

Rich Bartumioli of Melville recalls the day he met his wife, Jo-Ann, and their courtship.: I grew up in St. Albans, Queens, and graduated from high school in 1950. After serving (in the army) for two years, I returned home in February 1955.

I happened to go to a dance at Ascension Church in Elmhurst, where I met Jo-Ann Stuppi, my future wife. At the end of the night I asked whether Jo-Ann needed a ride home. She said her father was picking her up. Then I asked her how old she was and she said she was 17. When we started dating, her mother thought I was a married man because, at age 23, I was prematurely losing my hair and was driving a new car. I finally won her trust after Jo-Ann met my family. In April 1956, we got engaged on the steps of St. Leo's Church in Corona and were married on Nov. 18, 1956 at the same church. When Jo-Ann and I moved to Huntington that year her mother said, "That's God's country! You'll probably never see me again." They were the best people in the world.

We have two wonderful sons who have given us five grandchildren. We also raised two nieces, who have five children between them whom we also consider our grandchildren. Jo-Ann and I celebrated our 60th wedding anniversary this month at BiVio in Huntington with our immediate family. We have had a wonderful and blessed life together. -- With Virginia Dunleavy

Helen and Jerry Giorlando of Mount Sinai

Helen Giorlando of Mount Sinai recalls her courtship
(Credit: Giorlando family)

Helen Giorlando of Mount Sinai recalls her courtship with Jerry, her future husband.We met in the fall of 1963 at my friend's house. I was 18 and lived in Richmond Hill, Queens. My friends and I walked over to Jerry, who was sitting on the trunk of his red convertible. Jerry was 19 and lived in Queens Village. My first impression was that he thought he was hot stuff. I found out later that as soon as Jerry saw me he whispered to his friend that he was going to marry me. I was in a serious relationship at the time.

A few months later, Jerry found out that I broke up with my boyfriend. He jumped right in and called me for a date. Jerry took me bowling and to dinner. We then went to a movie and afterward stopped at IHOP. He seemed to want to make a good impression, and he did. I thought, "Wow, this guy knows how to treat a girl." I realized I had misjudged him.

Two years later, Jerry asked me to marry him. He didn't have enough money to buy me a ring, so he decided to sell his prized possession, his beloved red Pontiac Bonneville convertible. Jerry was devastated when he heard that the person who bought his car blew up the engine, and he has been in a depression ever since.

On Sept. 24, 1966, we were married at Our Lady of Lourdes in Queens Village, followed by a reception at The Huntington Town House. We moved from Queens to Ronkonkoma in 1970, and three years later settled in Port Jefferson Station. This summer we celebrated our 50th anniversary in a special way. We took our three children, two sons-in-law, our daughter-in-law and nine grandchildren to Playa Del Carmen, Mexico. My life with Jerry has never been boring. We look forward to many more years together.

Dennis and JoAnn Harrington of Fort Salonga

Dennis Harrington of Fort Salonga recalls the day
(Credit: Harrinton family)

Dennis Harrington of Fort Salonga recalls the day he first spoke to JoAnn, his future wife: In 1961, I was starting my senior year at Archbishop Molloy High School. I took the Q5A bus from Rosedale, Queens; one day a very pretty girl boarded at Springfield Gardens. Each day I hoped I'd see her, and when I did I couldn't keep my eyes off her. After graduation, I was on the same bus going to the Jamaica station, and there she was again. Finally I introduced myself; her name was JoAnn Siracuse. We talked every morning, exchanged addresses and phone numbers, but I still didn't ask her for a date.

Two months later I got a job, and I broke all contact. However, I'd drive past her house in my '59 Chevy Impala filled with regret but lacking the confidence to knock on her door. Then, in early 1964 my telephone rang. It was JoAnn. She asked if I would like to take her to her senior prom. I was stunned but immediately said "Yes!" I arranged to pick her up from school the next day and told her to look for a white Chevy convertible. She replied, "I know what your car looks like. I saw it when I would pass your house." She had been walking to my house with her friends hoping to see me. From that moment on, she has been the love of my life! To this day, I am grateful that this beautiful girl didn't give up on me, and asked me to her prom. Thus far it has been a wonderful life.

Linda and Scott Fairgrieve of Mineola

Linda Fairgrieve of Mineola recalls the day she
(Credit: Fairgrieve family)

Linda Fairgrieve of Mineola recalls the day she met future husband, Scott: In December 1973 my life was changed forever. I was 19 and working in the Swirbul Library at Adelphi University in Garden City; I was walking downstairs when I saw a young man coming up the stairs. He was wearing plaid polyester striped pants that clashed with his striped sweater. I thought, "This is the Seventies. Where are his blue jeans?" The next day in the library I heard a voice ask, "Will you go out with me?" I looked up and it was the young man. He said his name was Scott Fairgrieve. Scott had graduated from Adelphi and was attending St. John's University Law School in Queens. I introduced myself -- my name was Linda Massa then -- and agreed to go out with him.

Our first date was on the squash courts at Adelphi, where Scott taught me how to play. Afterward, when he emerged from the locker room wearing a brown/olive London Fog raincoat, I looked at him and heard music. It was like a signal that he was the one.

On Oct. 2, 1976, we were married at the Church of Saint Joseph in Garden City, followed by a reception at Antun's in Hicksville. We celebrated our 40th anniversary by renewing our vows at the Nassau Bar Association with family and friends. I wore my original wedding dress and veil. At the ceremony, our son gave me away, our daughter was my maid of honor, our son-in-law was Scott's best man and our daughter-in-law assisted our grandson, who was the ring bearer. The day was magical.

It should be noted that only in the past five years or so has Scott purchased clothes without me being present to approve.

Martin and Pearl Plawsky of Plainview

Martin and Pearl Plawsky of Plainview met with
(Credit: Plawsky family)

Martin and Pearl Plawsky of Plainview met with a little nudge from both his mother and sister. Martin recalls their courtship: My sister had known my future wife, Pearl, for many years before we met. She and Pearl's aunt were friends. In the summer of 1951, my sister thought it would be a good idea if we dated. I called Pearl, introduced myself and we arranged a blind date. She lived in New Rochelle. I lived in the Gravesend section of Brooklyn and was reluctant to travel that far for a date. When I told her I didn't have a car, she said she would come to Brooklyn and stay with her grandmother in Brighton Beach for the weekend. She was 17 and a senior in high school. I was 19. We went into Manhattan and saw the movie "A Place in the Sun" with Elizabeth Taylor and Montgomery Clift, followed by a snack at Toffinetti's Restaurant. We both enjoyed our date and met again the next day for a stroll on the boardwalk. We did not see each other again for three years.

In 1953, then was drafted into the Army in December. In December 1954, I was home on furlough when my mother told me she recently saw Pearl and suggested I call her. I did and we arranged our next date. Again, we met in Brooklyn. When I saw her, it was love at second sight. That New Year's Eve, at a party, I looked at Pearl and asked myself, why wait? I proposed. After a startled pause, she said yes and we became engaged in February. We were married on Oct. 7, 1956, at Burnside Manor in the Bronx and honeymooned in Miami Beach and Havana, Cuba. In 1961 we bought our home in Plainview. I'm so grateful to my mom for suggesting I make that phone call in 1954.

Lynn and Ken Summers of Wantagh

Lynn Summers of Wantagh recalls her high school
(Credit: Summers family)

Lynn Summers of Wantagh recalls her high school courtship with future husband Ken: Our roundabout journey to the celebration of 40 years of marital bliss began in Merrick in a 10th-grade biology class at Calhoun High School in 1964. High school was all new to me. I still remember it clearly, making new friends and that cute boy, Ken, in biology class. I smiled at him but didn't get a reaction. One of my friends was having a Halloween party, so, feeling both a little nervous and a little pushy, I timed my exit from class right and bumped into him as we reached the door. We started talking. I said I was Lynn Hogan and asked him to the party. We exchanged telephone numbers. On the phone that night we decided to go dressed as a cowboy and a cowgirl. At the party we danced to "The Loco-Motion," had fun and even a first kiss. We were both 15.

We went to prom together at the Malibu Beach Club in Lido Beach and had a great time -- until we had a big fight and broke up.

In 1975, I learned Ken had been engaged but that it hadn't worked out. On an impulse, I looked up his parents' phone number. We started dating and fell in love all over again, but this time we were both ready to make a life together. On Sept. 11, 1976, we were wed and had our reception at the North Merrick Fire Department. In 1980, we moved to Wantagh. We have a beautiful daughter, a wonderful son-in-law and two fabulous granddaughters.

Last week, we marked our 40th wedding anniversary. We celebrated in May with a trip to Paris, and with a weekend in Manhattan this month. Life is good.

Marilyn and Ray Walther of Bethpage

Marilyn and Ray Walther of Bethpage met through
(Credit: Walther Family)

Marilyn and Ray Walther of Bethpage met through a family connection. Ray recalls their courtship: In August 1952, my brother, who was in the Navy and at sea, decided to send flowers to his girlfriend, Dorothy Weiss. I offered to drop them off at her house in Flatbush, Brooklyn. When I got there, this cute young woman answered the door. I told her I had flowers for Dorothy and she ran off to get her and a tip, which I never received. Dorothy came back and introduced me to her sister Marilyn. My dad knew the family and had told me about her. He actually said, "Boy, do I have a girl for you!"

The next time my brother was home on leave, the four of us went to dinner and then danced afterward. Marilyn was really cute, had a warm smile and laughed easily. She was just fun to be with and she made me feel special. She was 18; I was 19 and had just enlisted in the Navy. We started dating. I'd see Marilyn whenever I could get home and we'd write when I was away. One day in 1954, I was home on leave and Marilyn was visiting at my family's house in Bellerose, Queens. We were in my mother's kitchen and I asked if she would like to become Mrs. Walther and spend the rest of her life with me. She smiled and said yes. It does not sound romantic, but true romance is falling in love with the same person all over again each morning.

We married on Aug. 25, 1956, at St. Brendan Church in Brooklyn, two weeks before I finished my military service. Recently, family and friends joined us at St. Martin of Tours Church in Bethpage for a Mass where we renewed our wedding vows, followed by a breakfast, to celebrate our 60th anniversary. Our lives have been full, blessed with family and many faith-filled friends and 60 years of a loving relationship. There is so much more for us to experience together.

Bob and Margie Walsh, Deer Park

Margie Walsh of Deer Park recalls a walk

Margie Walsh of Deer Park recalls a walk in the park that led her to future husband Bob: In 1963, after Easter Mass, my best friend and I took a stroll in Central Park. As we entered the park at 60th Street, two young men passed us. I thought one was especially good-looking and well-dressed. Two hours later, we were leaving the park at 59th Street when we saw them again. This time Bob, the one who had caught my eye, ran up to me and said, "Small world, isn't it?"

He lived in Greenpoint, Brooklyn, but had grown up on East 82nd Street and was visiting his friend. I lived on West 62nd Street. Bob asked for my phone number. Normally, I wouldn't think of giving my number to a stranger, but I wrote it on a church envelope for Bob. He called me that evening.

We saw each other the next day and continued dating. At Christmas, he gave me a pearl ring and asked if I would accept it as an engagement ring. I said yes. Bob and I wed on April 10, 1965, at St. Brendan's Church in Brooklyn. We have three children, seven grandchildren and one great-grandchild. Our home has always been a hub of activity and fun. We moved to North Babylon in 1973 and then to Deer Park in 1982. For our 50th anniversary in April, we renewed our vows at our parish church and had a backyard party with family and friends. We thank God for His many blessings and for a second chance to meet that day in the park.

James and Christine Kern, East Islip

James Kern of East Islip recalls the day
(Credit: Kern family)

James Kern of East Islip recalls the day he met future wife Christine: In 1990, I was 21 and working part time for Playworld in Lake Success while studying computer programming at SUNY Stony Brook. My sister, who worked for Playworld at the Sunrise Mall in Massapequa, thought it would be fun to volunteer me to play a Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle at her store. I met the store's assistant manager, Christine Galatioto. She was 27 and lived in North Massapequa.

Little did I know that Christine was developing a crush on me. Classes were starting and I planned to transfer to the Patchogue store to be closer to campus. My sister and Christine had other plans, and managed to get me transferred instead to Playworld's Toy Hut kiosk in Sunrise Mall. Not long after starting the job, I began to find smiley faces from Christine on my time cards. In January, after I found a rose on my car with a note that said "Just because," I finally woke up to the fact that she was gently pursuing me. I asked her out immediately. We were married on May 1, 1993.

In May we celebrated our 22nd anniversary. My wife's love and perseverance are simply amazing. Despite debilitating physical challenges from fibromyalgia, she constantly pushes through and does so much for our family. She is an inspiration to me.

Vincent and Lorraine Barone, North Woodmere

Vincent and Lorraine Barone of North Woodmere believe
(Credit: Barone family)

Vincent and Lorraine Barone of North Woodmere believe the stars were perfectly aligned the night they met. Vincent explains: In November 1952, I was a 21-year-old Army recruit doing basic training at Aberdeen Proving Ground in Maryland when my buddies and I got a weekend pass. They lived in New Jersey and tried to persuade me to spend the weekend with them, telling me about a beautiful dance hall in Newark they were going to called the Terrace Ballroom. I said no. We were being shipped to Korea in three weeks and I was eager to get back home to Brooklyn. We all boarded the same train on Saturday, and when the doors opened at the Newark station, two of them pushed me from behind as the other one pulled me off the train. I remember thinking, "I guess I am going to this dance." The ballroom was beautiful. We decided to get a drink at the bar, and that's when I spotted a girl out on the dance floor. I walked over and asked her for a dance.

Her name was Lorraine Colatrella and we hit it off immediately. We danced all night, and by the third song we were dancing cheek to cheek. Before we left I asked the hat check girl for a pencil and paper and got Lorraine's phone number and address. I stayed overnight in New Jersey with my buddies and proclaimed that if I returned safely from Korea, I was going to marry that girl!

I served with the 8th Field Artillery Regiment and returned home in April 1954, shortly before being honorably discharged at the rank of sergeant. Lorraine and I picked up where we left off and were married on Sept. 25, 1955. We have been blessed with three children, two daughters-in-law, one son-in-law and five grandchildren. For our 60th anniversary, our family recently took us into Manhattan in a limo to see the Broadway musical "Jersey Boys."

I could spend another 60 years with Lorraine. She is my heart and soul and I love her to the ends of the Earth.

Andrea and Everett Van Pelt, Lake Grove

Andrea Van Pelt of Lake Grove recalls the
(Credit: Van Pelt family)

Andrea Van Pelt of Lake Grove recalls the first times she saw future husband Everett and how that led to resolving a women's equality issue: In the summer of 1963, I began noticing a handsome young man walk by my house in Park Slope, Brooklyn. Every day he'd head in the same direction, toward the 716 Club, a new men's organization located nearby on Seventh Avenue and 16th Street. I would peek out my window to catch a glimpse of him. He wore white, Navy-uniform bell-bottom pants and had a walk to die for. My girlfriends and I were already curious about the club and so I suggested we stop by to investigate. I was also hoping to meet the handsome young man. The guys at the club were from the neighborhood. I spotted Everett and said, "I'm Andrea Calabrese. I live around the corner." He also grew up in the neighborhood but we had never met.

We girls began telling the guys they should induct women as members. They listened and, by October, the 716 Club was co-ed. I became a member and attended the Christmas and New Year's Eve parties where Everett and I got to know more about each other. In February 1964, we began dating. We became engaged that June and married six months later, on Dec. 5, 1964, at St. John the Evangelist Church in Park Slope.

Besides our meeting each other, we have many wonderful memories of the club. Everett and I were members until 1973, the year we moved to Michigan. We lived there for three years, then returned to New York in 1977 and bought our house in Lake Grove. Our family took us into Manhattan to celebrate our 50th anniversary over dinner at Benihana. We're hoping to have a party with family and friends in the near future.

Irving and Enid Serota, East Meadow

Irving Serota of East Meadow recalls his college
(Credit: Serota family)

Irving Serota of East Meadow recalls his college courtship of future wife Enid: I met Enid in September 1952 in an English class at Brooklyn College. She missed the first day of class and the only seat left in the room was next to me. I was 19 and she was 17. She lived in Canarsie and I was from Crown Heights. We found we had a lot in common and became friendly. We started having lunch together or meeting between classes. In June 1953, I asked Enid to go steady and gave her my fraternity pin. When my parents threw her a surprise birthday party in February 1954, I gave her a second surprise. With both our families gathered around and in on the secret, I proposed.

We married on Dec. 25, 1954, at Temple Beth Jacob in Brooklyn. In 1972, we bought our home in East Meadow. We always look forward to seeing all of our family whenever we can. We have two sons, of whom we are very proud, a wonderful daughter-in-law and two terrific grandsons. Our other daughter-in-law, an exceptional woman, passed away in 2013.

We recently marked our 60th wedding anniversary. We hope to take a trip to celebrate in the very near future.

Peggy and Walter Ruzek, Williston Park

Walter Ruzek of Williston Park recalls how his
(Credit: Ruzek family)

Walter Ruzek of Williston Park recalls how his prayers were answered when he met his future wife, Peggy: One day in December 1983, I was in my new apartment in Bellerose, Queens, praying for some relief in dealing with a diagnosis of kidney disease and a recent divorce, when there was a knock at the door. A deliveryman had a plant for a tenant at the other end of the hall who was not at home. He asked if I'd drop it off. I took the plant and later walked over to the apartment, where a very pretty young lady answered the door. I explained what happened and gave her the plant. A couple of weeks later, the girl from down the hall and her friend knocked on my door. I welcomed them inside as it sure beat being alone. My neighbor's name was Peggy Benjamin. I asked if she would like to go to a movie and she agreed. She was 30. I was 40. As we continued dating I discovered how loving and tender Peggy was to others. This was the beginning of our love affair.

On Sept. 6, 1986, we were married on the beach in Long Beach. In 1987, we bought our house in Williston Park with money I received for wrongful termination from my job due to my illness. But best of all, when I was told I needed a kidney transplant, without hesitation Peggy told the doctor she wanted to be the donor.

Transplant matches of people who are not related are very rare, but we were a match. On Dec. 5, 1989, I no longer needed dialysis because of this gift from Peggy. She is my lifelong hero. I became fully alive again thanks to her. There are still plenty of bumps in the journey, but nothing can take away the wonderful years we have had together.

Phil and Annie Friedman, Mount Sinai

Phil Friedman of Mount Sinai recalls his first
(Credit: Royal Caribbean)

Phil Friedman of Mount Sinai recalls his first date with his wife, Annie -- and his future in-laws: I had just broken up with a girlfriend in March 1967 when my twin brother's girlfriend took pity on me and offered to set me up on a blind date with her friend Annie. I called Annie and we set up a date. Coincidentally, we lived several blocks apart in the Flatbush area of Brooklyn. When I came to pick her up at Gabe's candy store, her parents' business on East 64th Street in Bergen Beach, Cupid's arrow hit me. She was petite and cute as a button.

Unfortunately, her mother had just told her she was grounded for having stayed out a little too late a week earlier. So date one was sitting at the counter drinking egg creams and talking, while being watched by her parents. Before I left, we set a second date. Her mom, in her very Hungarian accent, told me in no uncertain terms that she had rules and regulations, including an 11 p.m. curfew. I didn't know if she was pulling my leg, but one look from her dad and I wasn't going to find out.

On date two, Annie's birthday, I borrowed my friend's car and we went to a movie and then to dinner at Cooky's Steak Pub, a medieval-themed restaurant in Valley Stream. We continued seeing each other, always following her mom's rules and regulations, whether on a date at Rockaway Beach, her Madison High School senior prom or Jahn's ice cream parlor. Eight months later, we got engaged, and on June 21, 1969, we got married at Manhattan Beach Jewish Center. Her mom became a great friend and her dad bought me my first car. My parents loved Annie and my dad called her "Kitchie," or little kitten.

We moved to our home in Mount Sinai in 1973. As in every marriage, there have been many wonderful experiences and some bumps along the road, but with Annie as my partner, the bumps were never that rough and the journey has been the ride of my life.

Ed and Ada Lieberman, Commack

Ada Lieberman of Commack recalls the weekend she
(Credit: Lieberman family)

Ada Lieberman of Commack recalls the weekend she met her future husband, Ed: I graduated from Brooklyn College in June 1963, and was planning to start graduate work in musicology at the University of California, Berkeley, in September. I was 21 and lived with my parents in Flatbush, Brooklyn. Neither of them was thrilled with the idea of me going so far away, so they encouraged me to go on singles' weekends with my friends, hoping I would meet a young man. They told me a resort in the Pocono Mountains was hosting a singles' event July 19-21. Unfortunately, none of my friends was able to go, so my parents decided to drive me there and stay at a motel nearby.

I arrived at the resort on Friday, and was given a cabin with three other girls who had come together. They tried to lose me as soon as they could, and when we were assigned tables for dinner, they made sure I was not seated with them. It had been raining but began to clear up after dinner. I decided to go back to the cabin and change out of my rain boots. Along the way, I saw two handsome guys walking back to the social hall. I figured I had nothing to lose, so I said hello and explained that I was an optimist, putting away my boots because I thought it wouldn't rain anymore. They said they would wait for me.

The two men were my future husband, Ed, and his best friend, Richard. Ed and I spent the evening dancing together and talking. As we were leaving for home on Sunday, Ed asked for my phone number. He called the next day to ask me out for the following weekend.

Ed lived in Farmingdale, an hour-long car ride to my house in Flatbush. Ed and I spent every weekend together after that, and by early October we were engaged. We were married on March 15, 1964, at Temple Ahavath Sholom in Flatbush. It's been 50 wonderful years so far, and we hope for many more great years in the future.

Jack and Pearl Hayne, Old Bethpage

Jack and Pearl Hayne of Old Bethpage discovered
(Credit: Hayne family)

Jack and Pearl Hayne of Old Bethpage discovered mother knows best when it comes to matchmaking. Jack explains: On July 17, 1943, during World War II, I was a 19-year-old Army private stationed at Fort Totten in Bayside, Queens, trained as an ammunition loader and gunner on 40 millimeter anti-aircraft guns. I had a weekend pass and decided to visit my grandparents, who were spending the summer in the Catskill Mountains.

Upon arrival, I found my mother was also visiting. She invited me to take a walk into town so she could introduce me to some of the girls. I thought, "Uh oh, this could be bad." But not wanting to disappoint her, I went along. She took me into a store and introduced me to a very busy, gorgeous brunette named Pearl.

From then on I'd hitchhike back to visit Pearl whenever I could get a pass. I found out two months later that my aunt wanted her son, my cousin, to meet Pearl. Knowing I might have competition, I proposed to Pearl, but she was wise enough to decline because of the war. When the fighting ended, I won an appointment to the U.S. Military Academy, an hour away from Pearl. Cadets at U.S. Military Academy were forbidden to have a horse, mustache, car or wife, so marriage had to be postponed an additional four years. I graduated June 7, 1949, and we were married that day in the Cadet Chapel. A year later, the Korean War began and I was deployed for 19 months. I stayed in the Army and we traveled the world together.

Pearl has been the love of my life for 65 years. I shall be forever grateful to my mother for playing matchmaker.

Bob and Susan Gross, Wantagh

Susan Gross of Wantagh recalls the night she
(Credit: Gross family)

Susan Gross of Wantagh recalls the night she met her husband, Bob, and their courtship: I met Bob in January 1975 while listening to my sister sing with her band. We were at Ronnie J's, a pub in North Bellmore. My sister introduced me to him and his friend during her break. They were regulars at the pub and liked the band.

I thought Bob had a wonderful personality. I took my sister aside, told her I liked Bob and asked if she was interested in him. She assured me she didn't feel that way toward him but said she also thought he was a great guy. Bob took my number that night. A week later, on Jan. 17, we had our first date. He met my parents before we went to dinner at the Steak & Brew restaurant in Merrick. We continued dating.

After dating for two years, we got engaged. We were married on May 26, 1979, at Sacred Heart Church in North Merrick and went to California for our honeymoon. We lived in Levittown before moving to Wantagh, where we've raised two sons and a daughter. We are also the proud grandparents of an 11-month-old granddaughter.

Bob and I have had our share of life's ups and downs, including loss of loved ones, health issues and job losses. Life has given us many challenges, some days more than our share, but somehow together we manage to pick ourselves up, brush ourselves off and together head into another day. Our advice to newlywed couples is to never give up and always discuss what may be bothering you. Marriage and love are always a challenge, and you always have to work at it. When you do, the result can be very rewarding.

Frank and Norah Gusmerotti, Deer Park

Frank and Norah Gusmerotti of Deer Park love
(Credit: Gusmerotti family)

Frank and Norah Gusmerotti of Deer Park love to go dancing. Norah recalls their first dances together: I met my husband, Frank, in 1961 at the Tuxedo Ballroom on East 86th Street in Manhattan. Frank was there with his brother and friends. He was 22 and I was 20. We danced together quite a few times. He seemed very nice, was good-looking and a great dancer, so when he asked for my phone number I gave it to him.

His parents were from Italy and he came from a large family of six sisters and two brothers. My mother was from Ireland, also from a large family, but my father died when I was a baby, so I was an only child. My mother's family had a lot of parties in my aunt's basement out in Whitestone, Queens, where my uncles played Irish music on the fiddle and the accordion and we danced traditional Irish dances. It was a bit of a culture shock for Frank when I brought him there. He came to visit one Friday and we told him it was "Italian Night" and proceeded to open up a couple of cans of Franco American spaghetti. That's when he turned green. When my mother invited his parents for dinner, we worried whether they would understand one another. My mother had an Irish brogue and his parents spoke with Italian accents. We invited his brother and sister to help translate. We worried for nothing. They understood each other just fine and we had a great time.

Frank joined the New York City Fire Department in January 1964 and we were married April 18, 1964, in Good Shepherd Parish in Inwood, Manhattan. We moved to Deer Park in 1965. We have been well and truly blessed and still love to dance. The Spangle Drive Senior Center in North Babylon has great dance music.

Mira and Rolf Grayson, Melville

Mira and Rolf Grayson of Melville met and
(Credit: Grayson family)

Mira and Rolf Grayson of Melville met and fell in love far from home during World War II. Rolf recalls their courtship: It was January 1942 when my wife, Mira, and I met in London. We were both Jewish refugees from Germany, having had the good fortune to come to England shortly before World War II began in 1939. My sister would invite other young people, most of them refugees like us, to her apartment for tea. Mira's girlfriend, who knew my sister, introduced us at one of these get-togethers. She was just six weeks away from her 16th birthday. Although I was 22, she seemed quite mature, and I soon found myself attracted to her.

I had a job in a defense plant. Mira was a seamstress in a uniform manufacturing company, where she worked 6½ days and 48 hours a week. We lived not very far from each other and soon became quite friendly. In October 1943, we became engaged. Our wedding day was July 2, 1944. After the end of the war in 1945, we located family members of mine who had managed to get to America before the war. As soon as the opportunity arose, we made application to immigrate here.

We first settled in Brooklyn but were able to buy a Levitt house in 1956, at which time we also had a son. We now have four grandchildren and five great-grandchildren. We retired in 1991 and moved to an adult community in Melville. We will celebrate our 70th anniversary with a family reunion.

Frank and Anita Bowers, Wantagh

Frank Bowers of Wantagh recalls an impromptu first
(Credit: Bowers family)

Frank Bowers of Wantagh recalls an impromptu first date with his future wife, Anita: I was waiting for the Sixth Avenue F train in Manhattan late one evening in 1962 when I noticed two girls, one a dark-haired beauty, who were speaking a very strange language. At that point, the train rolled in and I sat across from them in the same car.

Fifteen minutes later, the train chugged into my stop at the 74th Street and Roosevelt Avenue station in Jackson Heights, Queens. The pretty girl, now by herself, got off the train and I followed her to the escalator. I caught up with her two blocks later and was feeling so good I asked if she'd like to join me for a midnight snack at the Chinese restaurant on the corner -- if she'd tell me what language she was speaking. She said it was Yugoslavian and promptly agreed to go to the restaurant. She felt safe since it was close to her home. Her name was Annette, she said, but after a nice chicken dish and funny conversation, she admitted her name was really Anita. She came to the United States with her family from Pula, Yugoslavia, in 1955. I walked her home, where her mother, not surprisingly, slammed the door in my face after she pulled her daughter to safety -- but not before Anita chirped out her phone number and said, "Thanks for the dinner."

We saw a lot of each other, going to many Broadway shows, then taking the F train home together on many nights. Anita and I were married on April 12, 1964. As the years moved on, Anita and I packed our bags and moved in the other direction Horace Greeley recommended -- from Manhattan to Jackson Heights to Valley Stream and finally Wantagh in 2003.

Paul and Francine Friedman, Kings Park

Paul and Francine Friedman of Kings Park fell
(Credit: Friedman family)

Paul and Francine Friedman of Kings Park fell in love at first sight on a blind date. Francine explains: I was a freshman at Brooklyn College in 1962 and worked part time at a wallpaper company. Most of my co-workers, all women older than me, were determined to fix me up with their sons, nephews or cousins. I assured them I had no problem getting my own dates, but these matchmakers were relentless. One day at work, everyone was talking about a baby shower they were throwing for a colleague. One woman innocently turned to me and asked if I was free on Saturday. Thinking this was in regard to the shower, I said, "Sure." She quickly replied, "Great, my cousin will call you tonight for a date." Trapped!

Date night arrived, the doorbell rang and there was Paul, tall and handsome. I introduced him to my parents before we left to see the movie "Light in the Piazza." Afterward, he took me to an Italian restaurant for dinner. We spent the rest of the evening driving around and talking for hours. He took me home, kissed me good night and asked me out for the following week. I accepted. The next day I told a friend that I was going to marry him.

Paul and I were married on April 5, 1964. We have had a wonderful 50 years together and are looking forward to many more, thanks to his cousin the matchmaker.

Victor and Donna Santoro, St. James

Victor Santoro of St. James recalls meeting his
(Credit: Santoro family)

Victor Santoro of St. James recalls meeting his future wife, Donna, and her family while on vacation, and the unusual request made by her mother: My friend and I were on vacation at Bushkill Falls House in Bushkill, Pennsylvania, in June 1961 when I met Donna. I was 18 and she was 15. She was staying in the cabin next door with her parents and 13-year-old sister. We'd see the family on the grounds and say hello in passing. Then, one morning, Donna's mother knocked on our door at 8:30 asking for a small glass of Scotch. We gave it to her but thought it an odd request.

During our stay I'd often see Donna at the swimming pool and at the nightly dances. I told her I was curious about why her mother asked for the Scotch. She told me her sister had a toothache that morning and her mother applied some Scotch to her gums to help relieve the pain. Before we left the resort, I asked Donna for her telephone number. When we got back home, we started dating.

After dating for nearly three years, we were married on May 16, 1964. This week marks our 50th anniversary. Donna and I plan to celebrate with our three children, eight grandchildren and our great-grandchild.

Don and Sandy Durando, Long Beach

Don Durando of Long Beach explains how The
(Credit: Durando family)

Don Durando of Long Beach explains how The Beatles and his father played a part in his meeting the love of his life, wife Sandy: I remember watching The Beatles perform on "The Ed Sullivan Show" in 1964 and then asking my dad for a drum set and a pair of Beatles boots. He said, "Sure, when you get a job you can buy them." The next day, I went to the Big A discount store around the corner from us in Astoria, Queens, and was hired, at age 11, to deliver weekly circulars. I continued working there part time, advancing to stock boy and toy buyer by the time I was 16 in 1969. That's when Sandy, also 16, started working at the store as a floor helper. On her first day, I introduced myself and asked her to lunch. We started dating and knew right away we were meant for each other.

At first, we were worried about how our families would react. Sandy is of Puerto Rican descent and my family is Italian. Our fears were unfounded. My parents and family took to Sandy right away. Her family, all wonderful people, took a little longer to accept me. However, her father always watched me from their fifth-floor apartment window to make sure I was safe whenever I left to go home.

On May 24, 1975, Sandy and I got married in St. Mary's Church in Long Island City. In 1991, we purchased our house in Long Beach. After being a couple for more than four decades, Sandy and I feel that meeting at Big A was our destiny.

Bill and Peg Burney, Port Jefferson Station

Bill and Margaret
(Credit: Burney family)

Bill and Margaret "Peg" Burney of Port Jefferson Station celebrated their 68th wedding anniversary this month. Bill recalls their courtship: I met this gorgeous gal on a spring day in 1939. I was playing stickball in the street with my friends. Peg and I lived in Manhattan and had both attended St. Paul the Apostle elementary school on Columbus Avenue and West 60th Street.

Peg, 16, was a sophomore at Wadleigh High School for Girls. I was 17 and had just graduated from the High School of Commerce. Although I had seen her numerous times in our neighborhood, this time I got up enough courage to ask her to the movies. She said yes, and that began my journey to a long, loving life with this wonderful person. In January 1943, I was drafted into the Army. Before I left for England, I asked Peg's mother for permission to marry her daughter. I had a lot of respect for her parents, and when my future mother-in-law suggested we wait until I returned, I went along with her wishes.

We wrote to each other every week until I came home in December 1945. Five months later, on May 4, 1946, we were married at St. Paul the Apostle Church. In 1958, we moved to Smithtown. We recently celebrated our 68th anniversary with our family at Butera's Restaurant in Smithtown. My wife is my lover, my friend, my right arm. I depend on her, and she is always there. I could not get by without her. She has my undying love forever.

Lucille and Pasquale Guarasci, Calverton

Lucille and Pasquale
(Credit: Guarasci family)

Lucille and Pasquale "Pat" Guarasci of Calverton met as teenagers. Pat remembers their courtship and his long bus rides to see his future wife: I was at my friend's birthday party in our Astoria, Queens, neighborhood when I first saw his cousin Lucille. It was 1958, and we were both 16. I asked her for a dance. I knew I had to see her again, so my friend gave me her number and we started dating. Lucille lived in Woodside, Queens. I would take a bus to her house, a 45-minute ride each way, for our dates. We'd go to a movie in her neighborhood but, more often than not, we'd attend a dance at Our Lady of Mt. Carmel Church in Astoria, which meant four bus trips for me. But I was determined to see Lucille, as I knew I was going to marry her someday.

The following year, my family moved to Jackson Heights and Lucille's family moved to Flushing. Now I was taking a bus, the subway and then a second bus to get to her house.

In 1960, Lucille graduated from St. Michael's Academy in Manhattan, and I graduated from William Cullen Bryant High School in Astoria. We went to each other's senior prom. I soon had a car of my own, which made the commute to her house much easier. On April 11, 1964, we were married at St. Kevin Church in Flushing, followed by a reception at Dante's Catering in East Elmhurst. We both feel that meeting at that party was our destiny. After 50 years, our love for each other never stops growing.

Annette and Bernie McMahon, Bethpage

Annette McMahon of Bethpage recalls the fancy skating
(Credit: McMahon family)

Annette McMahon of Bethpage recalls the fancy skating moves her husband, Bernie, performed to get her attention the night they met: I was 25 and living in Ozone Park, Queens, in l949. The acceptable place for members of the opposite sex to commingle was the local roller-skating rink, and Queens abounded with them. One evening, my friends and I were at the Queens Roller Rink on Horace Harding Boulevard in Elmhurst. I remember blissfully gliding along to a Glenn Miller tune when an engaging young fellow in a yellow bow tie skated backward in front of me. He performed several other fancy moves for me and we started skating together. His name was Bernie, he was 23 and he grew up in Greenpoint, Brooklyn. At evening's end, he accompanied a group of us to a nearby Howard Johnson's for something to eat. When we were leaving, he asked for a lift to the subway. At the entrance he said to me, "I think I'm going to marry you!" As far as I was concerned, that put him in the "nut" category.

Over the next several months, Bernie and I would run into each other at various roller rinks. The more I got to know him, the more I was impressed by his extraordinary intelligence. We eventually exchanged telephone numbers and started dating. Two years later, on Feb. 22, 1951, we tied the knot at St. Matthew's Lutheran Church in Ozone Park. This year we celebrated our 63rd wedding anniversary. Age has taken its toll on Bernie's mind and body, but each bedtime we declare our love and the "luck" we still share together.

Gene and Georgie Orlando, Franklin Square

Gene Orlando of Franklin Square recalls how a
(Credit: Orlando family)

Gene Orlando of Franklin Square recalls how a pair of movie tickets brought him and his wife, Georgie, together: My good friend and I were business partners of Long's Ice Cream Parlor and luncheonette on Fulton Street in Cypress Hills, Brooklyn, in 1962. A woman named Flo worked nearby and had lunch at our counter every day. She told me her sisters lived in the neighborhood and belonged to a weekly bowling league at the Lucky Strike Lanes down the block. That September, I got my father and brother to join my team. We met Flo's sisters -- Shirley, 36, and Georgie, 25 -- who were on another team and were both single. Every so often, Shirley would ask me to drive Georgie home. I did and we'd sit in my car for a few minutes and talk before she went inside. I was dating another girl at the time and didn't realize Shirley was trying to play matchmaker.

That January, my girlfriend suggested we see the movie "Cleopatra," starring Elizabeth Taylor, which would be premiering that June at the Rivoli Theatre in Manhattan. I bought two tickets in advance for July 4. They were more expensive than the usual movie tickets. In May 1963, the league ended and I broke up with my girlfriend. I now had two movie tickets and no date. I asked several girls if they wanted to see the movie, but they all had plans. A few days before the show, I mentioned the tickets to a boy who lived next door to the luncheonette. He said, "Ask the girl from the bowling league." I never thought of Georgie as the type of girl I would date. But I didn't want to waste the tickets.

I called her at work; she was a switchboard operator at Home Insurance Co. in Manhattan. After apologizing for the short notice, I asked if she'd like to go to the movie. Boy, was I relieved when she said, "OK." We went to the show and then dinner. I asked her out again the next day, and a month later we were engaged. We married on April 4, 1964, and spent our honeymoon in the Pocono Gardens Lodge in Pennsylvania. Looking back, calling Georgie for that movie date was the best decision I ever made.

Martin and Maxine Blumberg, Melville

Martin Blumberg of Melville recalls how he got
(Credit: Blumberg family)

Martin Blumberg of Melville recalls how he got the attention of future wife, Maxine, when they met at a dance: My friends and I decided to go to a dance at a Jewish Center in Rego Park, Queens, in 1961. When I got there, I saw this beautiful girl talking to her friends and asked her to dance. She told me her name was Maxine. She was 16 and lived in Rego Park. I said, "You moved recently." She said, "Yes, how did you know?" It was just a guess, but I didn't tell her that. I wanted to pique her curiosity because, although I was only 18, I knew immediately that she was the person I wanted to share my life with.

As we danced I continued guessing and said, "You have a brother and you just broke up with a boyfriend." I was right again. After a few dances I went back to my friends on the other side of the room. I was playing hard to get. Maxine walked over to me, asking again how I knew those things about her. I kept her guessing.

I asked if I could walk her home. When we got to her doorstep I leaned over to kiss her. She put up her hand and said, "I do not kiss on the first date." I said, "Let's make believe it's our last date." She went along with that and let me give her a little peck on the cheek. A few days later, I called her and we began dating. We were married on March 14, 1964. These 50 years of marriage were beyond our greatest dreams. Who said marriage doesn't work?

Catherine and William Powers, Terryville

William Powers of Terryville recalls how his introduction
(Credit: Powers family)

William Powers of Terryville recalls how his introduction to his future wife, Catherine ("Tatty"), began on a sour note: For several years, I participated in "The Wall Street Follies," a fundraiser for Our Lady of Victory Roman Catholic Church, on Pine and William streets near Wall Street. Rehearsals were beginning, so I stopped by, to sign up. There, I saw a kick-dance line of beautiful girls. One of them stood out. "Who is that beautiful redhead in the chorus line?" I asked a friend. "That's Catherine Casserly," she said.

I always sang a solo in past shows and decided to sing "You Belong to Me." Onstage I introduced myself and said, "I'd like to dedicate this song to Catherine Casserly." Mind you, I had not met her yet.

See the pyramids along the Nile,

Watch the sunrise on a tropic isle,

Just remember, darling, all the while,

You belong to me.

Well, at the end of the song, the beautiful redhead came up to me and said, "Bill Powers, I don't belong to you or any man," and walked away. I didn't see Catherine until rehearsal the following week. Afterward, I asked her if she'd like to get a cup of coffee with me. She agreed and later admitted that after thinking about it, she was quite flattered by my song dedication. And she loved my singing voice. I proposed six months later. We were married on Jan. 30, 1954, and drove to Daytona Beach, Fla., for our honeymoon. In 1959, we moved to Terryville, where we raised our nine children.

Kelley and Sal Fusco, Seaford

Kelley Fusco and her husband, Sal, of
(Credit: Imagine Studios)

Kelley Fusco and her husband, Sal, of Seaford parted ways after dating for a year. Kelley recalls how they were reunited 13 years later: Our story begins in the summer of 1996, when Sal was 20 and I was 19. I was at Kelsey's Pub, a bar in Levittown, for the first time. My friends and I were about to leave when Sal stopped me on my way out. I hadn't noticed him before. When he realized I was leaving, he asked for my phone number. I was very shy, and Sal completely caught me off guard. However, I was so overcome by his good looks that I grabbed a bar napkin and wrote my number down before walking out. Sal was from Levittown, and I lived in Seaford. We went out on a few infrequent dates over the next year before we both decided to move on. We ran into each other only once over the next 13 years.

When I was in my late 20s, my health began to decline due to cystic fibrosis. In 2009, I was placed on the list for a double lung transplant at New York-Presbyterian Hospital / Columbia University Medical Center in Manhattan and was finally blessed with a match on Feb. 22, 2010. It was time to start living again.

That November, Sal's name came up in a conversation with a friend I hadn't seen in some time. Afterward, I went onto Facebook and there, on the screen under "People You May Know," was Sal Fusco. It had to be a sign, so I made a "friend request" to him. He accepted the next day and called me. We were on the phone for hours.

A week later, we met for coffee and a movie. We immediately clicked, and I was smitten all over again. Since that night, we have been inseparable. On July 20, 2013, I married the love of my life and best friend on the beach at The Sands Atlantic Beach, surrounded by all of our amazing family and friends. The miraculous, selfless act of organ donation let me have this moment, which I never thought would happen.

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