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Love story: Falling for an older, ‘mature’ man

Jim and Marion Johnson of Amityville at an

Jim and Marion Johnson of Amityville at an event in 2013. The couple married in 1975 and marked their 40th anniversary in October 2015. Credit: Johnson family

Jim and Marion Johnson of Amityville crossed paths many times before finding each other. Marion recalls the journey.

Jim and I grew up in Amityville. His father owned Johnson’s Meat Market in the village. I remember going there with my parents and his Dad giving each of us kids — I had seven siblings — a piece of bologna.

Jim says I later caught his eye in 1969 at St. Martin of Tours elementary school cafeteria. He was working there as a custodian for the summer. He’d just finished his freshman year at Villanova University in Pennsylvania. I was 14 and he was 19. He remembered me, Marion Marcley, and my family. He knew our paths would cross again. And they did.

I was in high school when I first noticed Jim at the beach. He was training with other Amityville Fire Department volunteers for the firefighters’ competitions.

In my senior year, I was dating a guy whose friend was renting a house with Jim. The house became a hangout for us and other friends.

Jim had left Villanova after a few semesters and got a job. He was now 23 and I was 18. I got to know him and started to like this mature man.

As time went on, I finished high school, broke up with my boyfriend and started a nursing career as an licensed practical nurse.

One day, I ran into Jim. He knew I was single and asked if I wanted to stop by the house. I was ecstatic! To prevent an awkward situation, I asked my girlfriend to suggest that our friends, especially my ex-boyfriend, go anywhere else but Jim’s house. They all showed up anyway, but everything was fine.

We began dating and got engaged a year later. We wed on Oct. 19, 1975, at St. Martin of Tours church and settled in Amityville. Jim had joined the Amityville Fire Department as a volunteer firefighter in 1968 and eventually became volunteer fire chief. I continued my education at night while working full-time and received my bachelor’s degree in nursing from C.W. Post LIU in 1999. In 2001, I became a master gardener through the Cornell Cooperative Extension and volunteered with the Amityville Parks Commission.

At age 42, Jim was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis. Being a nurse, I am able to care for him and believe this is why God brought us together. It has been a challenging disease, but he has handled it with grace. We still go out and have laughs with friends.

He retired in 2004 as executive director of the Suffolk County Fire Academy. I retired in 2015 as an Amityville school district nurse.

We celebrated our 40th anniversary in October 2015 with our loving family members, who gave us a party, and our wonderful friends. I’ll be forever grateful for the love Jim and I have shared for these 40 years.

With Virginia Dunleavy

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