John and Susan Irwin celebrated Susan’s 70th birthday in October 2021...

John and Susan Irwin celebrated Susan’s 70th birthday in October 2021 at Southward Ho Country Club. Credit: Irwin Family

Susan Irwin talks about how she met her husband, John.

I met my husband, John, in 1968 when we noticed each other in a group of mutual friends. We would get together at the Islip Bowl and Wetson's on Sunrise Highway in Bay Shore. I was 17, and John was 19. I was a senior at Brentwood High School, and he was a sophomore at Hofstra University. 

Our first date was going to a movie at Bay Shore-Sunrise Drive-In Theatre. We went in his mother’s ‘65 red, convertible Chevrolet Impala, and after that night we started dating on a regular basis. John took me to my senior prom, which was at Leonard's of Great Neck, and afterward we went into Manhattan to see the Fifth Dimension perform.

After graduation, I enrolled at Suffolk County Community College and we dated more frequently. John decided to take a break from college during which he got drafted into the U.S. Army. I, too, took a break from college and got a job with the Suffolk County Police Department's Finance Bureau. By now, we had decided that we wanted to spend the rest of our lives together. We got engaged in the spring before he left for basic training at Fort Dix in New Jersey.

Eight weeks later John went to Vietnam. An abundance of letters, our love and loyalty, along with lots of faith, got us through the time apart. 

When he returned safely home in 1971, we started planning our wedding. We were married on June 10, 1972, at Ascension Lutheran Church in Deer Park with a sit-down dinner reception for more than 100 guests at Sun-Land on the Bay in Blue Point. We honeymooned in Bermuda.

We bought our first house in Hauppauge in 1972; our first child, a son, was born in 1974 followed by three daughters. We raised our family in Hauppauge before relocating to East Islip.

John joined the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers Local 25 in the early '70s and worked on high-profile buildings on Long Island. In 1986, he founded Irwin Contracting Inc., which recently celebrated its 36th anniversary. Through the years, all of our children have worked at Irwin Contracting. I worked in the business for 27 years, retiring nine years ago. John will retire after this year, when our son is prepared to take over.

John is hardworking, dedicated, successful and loyal — and definitely a problem solver. I can go to him for anything, and it will be resolved. He built the house we call our home, where we have many gatherings with family and friends. We have been blessed with 15 grandchildren, all beautiful and special to us. We are having a 50th anniversary reception with family and friends at Southward Ho Country Club, in Bay Shore, where we are members.

After 50 years we complete each other's sentences, remember what the other has forgotten and enjoy the same activities. We have had a healthy and successful life shared with family and others. With our gifts from God we hope to be more generous by giving to others and continue sharing our love by giving to each other every day.

Living together for 50 years comes with rough patches, but the beautiful memories outweigh them all. We have sustained our connection to each other and our faith at Trinity Lutheran Church in Islip. We enjoy golfing, traveling and boating together; and we enjoy visiting with our grandchildren at their activities. Our prayers for our grandchildren would be that they find a love that can last 50 years and more.

— With Lynn Petry

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