Karen and Norman Isaksson of Holbrook celebrated their 55th anniversary...

Karen and Norman Isaksson of Holbrook celebrated their 55th anniversary in 2018. The couple met in 1963 while rowing on the lake at Belmont Lake State Park. Credit: Isaksson Family

Karen Isaksson of Holbrook recalls the day she met her husband, Norman.

On June 21, 1963, I was spending the afternoon with my two girlfriends. One girl lived in Babylon, and I suggested we stop at nearby Belmont Lake State Park and rent a rowboat. Little did I know that in the middle of that lake, my life would change forever.

There were three guys also out rowing on the lake. They started talking to us, but we didn’t pay much attention to them. After our “cruise,” we were walking on a nature trail when the same guys “accidentally” bumped into us. They introduced themselves. One of them, Norman Isaksson, had very attractive blue eyes. My name was Karen Meisner back then. I was 20.

The guys said they were with a club and invited us to join them for burgers. We first said, “No,” but after they assured us we would be welcomed and there was a chaperone, we went with them.

Well, not only did we join them and 30 other young people for burgers, but we went to Jones Beach with the group after the park closed.

Norman was very easy to talk to. He was 23 and lived in Roosevelt. He asked me out to dinner the next night. I accepted. On our way home, my girlfriends were sure I was going to marry Norman and said they wanted to be in my wedding party!

My mom told some neighbors about our date. The next evening, she and the neighbors waited with me on our porch for Norman, who was an hour late. I lived off Plainview Road in Hicksville, but he had been driving up and down Plainview Road in Plainview.

Karen and Norman Isaksson of Holbrook on their wedding day...

Karen and Norman Isaksson of Holbrook on their wedding day in December 1963. They honeymooned in Manhattan. Credit: Isaksson Family

We saw each other every day for six weeks until Norman reported to his Army Reserve unit at what is now Fort Drum, in upstate Watertown. We wrote to each other every day. When he returned two weeks later, we got engaged. Norman served in the Army Reserve from 1962 until 1966.

That October, we bought our first house in West Islip. We kept busy on weekends painting, wallpapering and decorating our home.

On Dec. 28, 1963, we were married at Good Shepherd Lutheran Church in Plainview. The altar was decorated with Christmas trees on either side and red poinsettias along the railing. My bridesmaids, including the two girls who were with me that day at Belmont Lake, wore cranberry-colored dresses. My younger sister, Gail, was my maid of honor. She wore an emerald-green dress. My bouquet had holly and crystals tucked among the flowers.

Our reception was at Antun’s in Queens Village. Then we had a four-day honeymoon in Manhattan.

In 1966 we moved to Holbrook and raised three wonderful children who have chosen three equally wonderful spouses. They have blessed us with five beautiful grandchildren.

Norman retired in 1995 after 28 years as a mechanic for Suffolk County. He first worked with the Suffolk County Police Department, then with the Department of Public Works. He has since held a variety of jobs and enjoys tinkering around the house

I retired as a supervisor for Christmas Around the World, a decorative products company. I worked there from 1988 to 2001 hosting home parties and earned trips to 23 countries. Norman and I especially enjoyed visiting Egypt, Thailand and Kenya, where we went on safari!

We renewed our vows on our 50th anniversary, Dec. 28, 2013, at The Mansion at West Sayville followed by a celebratory luncheon with family and friends.

Dec. 28, 2018, marked the 55th anniversary of the day I married the best “catch” in Belmont Lake!

— With Virginia Dunleavy

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