Love Story: Virginia and Walter Golanek


Virginia "Jean" and Walter Golanek as seen in a recent photo. Photo Credit: Handout

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Virginia "Jean" Golanek of Holbrook recalls how she met her husband, Walter, at a summer job when they were teenagers.


I met my husband in 1945 at Hearns department store in the Bronx. My aunt helped me get a summer job there as an information girl. Walter was working as a stock boy. We were both 16. One day he was walking by me with some of the fellows he worked with and said to them, "You see that girl? I'm going to marry her someday." When summer ended I went back to school. Walter, who had already graduated, joined the Air Force.

Four years later I lost my job with a bank and was on line at the unemployment office. Walter, who had been a co-pilot in the Aleutian Islands for three years, was there, collecting his military benefits. He came over and asked me how I was doing and if I remembered him. When I said I didn't he looked a little disappointed. He mentioned Hearns, and I finally remembered him. He still had the same pompadour hairstyle and was very handsome.

He asked me if I was seeing anyone. "Not at the present time," I said. He asked for my telephone number and called me a week later. We began seeing each other off and on for the next two years. The boys I usually dated were outgoing and took me to dances and other fun places. With Walter, we always went to the movies. He was very quiet, and at first I thought he was kind of boring.

Walter's good looks and generosity finally won me over, and in 1951 I said yes when he proposed to me on the roof of my apartment building. We married at St. Helen's Church in the Bronx on April 26, 1952. Despite a huge thunderstorm that day, the ceremony was perfect. During the reception, though, my veil caught fire from a candle on the dais while we were taking pictures. Luckily, it didn't dampen the mood, and everything else went as planned at the dinner for about 100 guests at a hotel.

During the early years of our marriage, Walter turned out to be a jack-of-all-trades: amateur boxer, writer, carpenter, bartender and bus driver. He even sewed some of my maternity clothes! In 1959 we moved to Bethpage and later lived in Farmingdale before moving to our present home in Holbrook. We have three children and four grandchildren.

We love to travel and have visited Hawaii, Europe, Mexico, California, Spain, Puerto Rico and the Bahamas. Walter retired in 1996 as an engineer with AAR Technical Services in Garden City. I retired in 1995 as a teacher's assistant at a nursery school in Melville.

In 2006, Walter had a major stroke. We celebrated our 60th anniversary this year and will take a family cruise. Communication, trust and respect are key to a long marriage.


Walter died May 1. He is buried at St. Charles Cemetery in East Farmingdale.

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