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Love Story: There's was a romance begun in service to others

Elizabeth and Bruce Cohn of Sea Cliff have

Elizabeth and Bruce Cohn of Sea Cliff have continued their service during the pandemic. Credit: Michelle Cohn

Elizabeth (Gross) Cohn of Sea Cliff talks about meeting her husband, Bruce.

In 1988 I was 27 and living in Glen Cove. Bruce, also a Glen Cove resident, was 32. We both were volunteer emergency medical technicians at Glen Cove Volunteer EMS Corps, YES which Bruce help found in 1985. I volunteered there on weekends while going to nursing school at Nassau Community College.

On first pass, Bruce did not seem like a good match for me; I thought he was too nerdy. But another member kept encouraging me to give him a chance. I was glad I did! Bruce, who knew I was never able to see the sunset because of my hours, invited me to join him at Morgan Park in Glen Cove. We watched the sunset together that night — and for many nights after. As it turned out, he was nerdy but also very cute.

From then on, we worked shifts together. Bruce taught me, without much success, how to drive the ambulance. It was something I rarely did; I was terrible at it. The newness of the ambulance corps, in addition to saving lives, provided funny stories; like the time someone used Armor All on the ambulance bench seats. A sudden stop sent everyone sliding down the bench and into the front of the ambulance, stacked on top of one another. The patient, who was well secured, barely noticed.

We decided to wait until I graduated from nursing school to get married, setting Feb. 3, 1991, for our wedding to be held at the Nassau County Bar Association building in Mineola. It was a small winter wedding and, rather than a modest dinner, we hosted an all-you-can-eat brunch with eggs, waffles, coffee, mimosas, bagels and fruit. It went off without a hitch. We had so much fun at our wedding celebration, we forgot to eat and ended up grabbing a few slices of pizza on the way home.

On our way to our honeymoon in Stowe, Vermont, we made two stops: First, at a post office to mail the final draft of a book I wrote on emergency electrocardiogram interpretation, then in Albany to attend a conference for emergency medical services instructors. Finally we went onto our honeymoon. We moved to a home in Sea Cliff, where we still live today.

In 1994, while I was in the hospital recovering from giving birth to our son, Zach, Bruce registered me for my first semester at Stony Brook University to become a nurse practitioner. After Stony Brook, I continued to Columbia University for my Ph.D. in nursing. Our daughter, Michelle, was born in September 1996.

Bruce is a graduate of New York Law School and obtained a master of public health degree at New York Medical College between work and raising our family. He recently retired as vice president and senior counsel at NYU Langone Hospital-Long Island in Mineola. I’m the associate provost for research at Hunter College in Manhattan.

We have stayed connected to our volunteer work throughout our marriage. Bruce teaches at the Nassau County EMS Academy, preparing fire and ambulance volunteers to serve during the COVID-19 pandemic. I volunteer with the Medical Reserve Corps and was most recently providing COVID-19 vaccines to first responders at Nassau Community College.

Our two beautiful grown children both work from our Sea Cliff home because of the pandemic. So, we are back to family dinners together, and our house and hearts are full. We were wondering how to celebrate our 30 years together and concluded that it’s best to celebrate by continuing our service to others.

— With Ann Donahue-Smukler

TELL US ABOUT HOW YOU MET. Access the online form at — or send an anecdote along with your phone number and a photo to, or call Ann Donahue-Smukler at 631-843- 2520. Publication is not guaranteed. Photos cannot be returned and may be used in other publications affiliated with Newsday.

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