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LOVE STORYThey put their relationship to the test — and it passed

Rose Marie Maher of Patchogue recalls meeting her future husband, Gary, and their courtship.

In the summer of 1965, my sister, Gary’s mother and his future sister-in-law were working together at the W.T. Grant store’s lunch counter on Main Street in Patchogue when they decided Gary and I should meet. My sister would come home and talk about Gary to me, and his mom would talk about me to Gary. I attended Oregon Avenue Middle School in Medford; Gary attended the former St. Francis de Sales School, also in Patchogue. I was 12. He was 13.

One day while at the Patchogue Beach Club community pool, I noticed a boy I thought could be Gary. I had met Gary’s brothers through my sister and the boy looked like them. I mustered up the courage to ask, “Are you Gary Maher?” The boy said yes. I told him I was Rose Marie Musso. We were too shy to say anything else, but sparks started flying for both of us.

Two months later, the store had a barbecue for employees and their families at the Republican Club in Blue Point. My sister and I met Gary and his mom there. We hung out together but were still very shy. Little did we know that this was the beginning of something very special.

We started talking to each other on the phone and, eventually, Gary asked me out to a movie. Our dads had to pick us up and drop us off. We’d go to a movie every couple of weeks. I remember once, while walking back to Gary’s house from the theater, we waited for a train to pass through the crosswalk; he began to panic thinking we’d miss my curfew. At times, Gary would ride his bicycle across town to my house to see me.

We both went on to Patchogue-Medford High School and continued dating, going to all the special school dances together, including our junior and senior proms. Sometimes, we would double date with my sister and her husband.

After four years of dating, we decided it was time to put our relationship to the test and began seeing other people. A year later, I ran into Gary at Smith Point County Park beach. He asked if he could see me that night. When I told him I had a date he said, “Tell him not to come.” I canceled the date. Gary picked me up then drove me to his house. He had a new stereo and had just bought an album by the band Chicago. He wanted me to hear one song, “Color My World,” which later became our wedding song. We now knew we were meant to be together.

We were married on April 21, 1974, at Our Lady of Mt. Carmel Church in Patchogue, followed by a reception at Bellport Country Club. My sister was my maid of honor and Gary’s brother was his best man. We honeymooned in Puerto Rico.

We both enjoy golfing, skiing and fishing — especially with our family. For our 20th anniversary, we went to Hawaii; we recently celebrated our 44th anniversary touring national parks out West.

Gary retired in 2002 as an engineer with the Long Island Rail Road. I am a real estate broker with Douglas Elliman in the central Suffolk office.

Today, we are blessed with a beautiful family: our daughter and son, our son-in-law, daughter-in-law and four grandchildren who color our world. It just keeps getting better.

— With Virginia Dunleavy

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