Mary and Larry Bilello will celebrate their 50th anniversary on...

Mary and Larry Bilello will celebrate their 50th anniversary on Oct. 3, 2021. Credit: Jane DeRosa

Mary Bilello talks about how she met her husband, Larry.

I first noticed Aurelio in the early '50s when he was roughhousing with other boys in the front yard of our grammar school, the former St. Sylvester in Brooklyn. He caught my eye and someone pointed out his name, unique because it contained every vowel. His given name is Aurelio, but he is known as Larry. I was 10 and he was 11 when I first saw him. We were in different grades and didn't have much contact.

After grammar school, I became best friends with Angela Rizzuto, and we both attended the former St. Michael's Commercial High School. On a visit to Angela’s house, I again saw Larry, who it turned out was Angela’s cousin and lived in the same three-family home. Because we knew each other from grammar school, Larry and I would acknowledge each other when I visited, but our relationship remained cordial.

As time went on, we would see each other more frequently, and Larry asked me out. I was 17 and he was 18, and we went to see the 1962 movie "Diamond Head," starring Charlton Heston, at the Fox Theatre in Downtown Brooklyn. We dated on and off for about 10 years. I liked him very much, but wasn’t sure of my true feelings for him, and finally he stopped pursuing me. One day, I realized Larry had not called me in a long time. I became upset, fearing I had lost him. As fate and good luck would have it, he called me at my secretarial job in Manhattan that day to touch base and asked if I would like to go out to the Rainbow Grill in Manhattan. I said yes immediately!

After that call, I realized Larry was the man I wanted to spend my life with. Not hearing from him and thinking that I had lost him had opened my eyes to my true feelings. To this day, I thank the Lord for his call.

We began dating exclusively, and on New Year’s Eve 1969 at his parent's house in Ozone Park, he proposed to me. The next Memorial Day, we became engaged and had a party at Regency House in Jamaica, Queens. We had a fairy-tale wedding on Oct. 3, 1971, at Terrace on the Park in Queens.

In 1972 we had our first daughter, Jane, and in 1974 our daughter Carrie Anne arrived. We moved our growing family to Lake Grove in 1973, buying the house where we still live.

Mary and Larry Bilello had their engagement party at Regency...

Mary and Larry Bilello had their engagement party at Regency House in Jamaica, Queens. Credit: Mary Bilello

I worked as a secretary in Manhattan for 10 years, and Larry worked as an air traffic controller at the New York Air Route Traffic Control Center in Ronkonkoma as well as in other professions. I stayed home for a time to raise our children and then returned to work at Katharine Gibbs School, the National Education Association of New York and, most recently, New York State United Teachers. I retired in 2017. Larry retired from Home Depot in 2013.

We plan to celebrate our 50th wedding anniversary with our daughters, sons-in-law and three beautiful grandchildren, Lauren, Arianne and Thomas.

When Larry and I were dating, we were at my mother’s house when she started pulling out old pictures of me and my family. Larry noticed that in one picture of me standing at my grammar school graduation, there were two people standing behind me — his mother and father. If that wasn’t fate mapping out my destiny, I don’t know what was. I surely made the right choice: My life has been blessed with Larry from the start because he's the man of my dreams.

— With Lynn Petry

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