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Love Story: Engagement was quintessential New York moment

Jeff and Lynette Schwartz of Plainview celebrate their

Jeff and Lynette Schwartz of Plainview celebrate their 35th wedding anniversary at a Sandals resort in Jamaica on Dec. 23, 2019. Credit: Schwartz Family

Jeff Schwartz of Plainview talks about meeting his wife, the former Lynette Vigdor.

It was Friday, July 30, 1982. I was from North Massapequa but living in San Diego and attending Thomas Jefferson School of Law. Out with friends at a nightclub at Marina Village, I spotted a woman across the room and told them, "You see that girl? I’m going to marry her." I walked over, introduced myself to Lynette and asked her to dance. Before we knew it, it was after 1 a.m. I told Lynette that Monday was my birthday, and I wanted to take her to dinner. She said she would join me, but that she would pick up the tab. Lynette, 22, was raised in San Diego and worked at a bank.

We dined at The Fish Merchant, walked the shore in La Jolla and headed to a comedy club to see an unknown comic named Howie Mandel. Six days after meeting Lynette, I said aloud what we both knew: I loved her. She was scared, thinking "how can something so good happen so fast?" She backed off, and we didn’t see each other for eight months. In May 1983 we arranged to meet again at the law library and soon started dating exclusively.

We flew to New York in December to visit family and relatives. Before we left, I gave Lynette riddles about plans I made for us, like "Listen to me, at three you’ll see" and "In Times Square, you’ll have your own time square," among others. On the big day, we had cheesecake at Lindy’s, paid our bill and went outside. At 3 p.m. on the dot, I told Lynette to turn around and look at the Times Square billboard, which said, "Dear Lynette, Welcome to New York, I Love You Now and Forever, Jeff." Lynette started screaming telling everyone around us, "That’s me, that’s me!" Later that night we had dinner at Tavern on the Green, where, after dessert, I proposed.

We were married Dec. 23, 1984, at a temple in San Diego with a reception at Atlantis, the SeaWorld restaurant. We lived in San Diego for many years. Lynette started working at Great American Bank and rose from teller to assistant to the controller. She was working at PaineWebber in San Diego on Black Monday 1987.

Our daughter, Michelle, and our son, Joel, were born in San Diego. In 2003, we moved to Plainview.

I love an adventure and have bungee jumped and flown in a glider. The whole family sky-dived from 13,000 feet in 2011. Lynette's passion is providing child care, and she’s worked in that field at different Long Island locations. I ran my own law firm in California and on Long Island, established a software company, was a candidate for U.S. Congress and am now CEO of Conceive Believe Achieve, a business consultancy. Nonprofit service has always been part of my life. As co-founder of Life’s Angels in Garden City, I’ve organized poker tournaments, raising more than $200,000 for those "dealt a bad hand in life."

Lynette is the motivation for everything I do. Besides deserving a medal for living with a serial entrepreneur, she is the most special, loving, understanding and warm soul I know. I’m very fortunate to have met Lynette 38 years ago and know how special it will be spending the rest of our lives together.

We celebrated our anniversary quietly at home this year but played our anniversary game, one in which we recall and recite what we did for each and every anniversary. Though we've been married 36 years, Lynette and I will always be newlyweds.

— Ann Donahue-Smukler

TELL US ABOUT HOW YOU MET. Access the online form at newsday.com/lilovestory — or send an anecdote along with your phone number and a photo to ann.smukler@newsday.com, 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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