Credit: Conte family

Ginny Conte of Floral Park recalls the circumstances that brought her and future husband Tony together.

Tony and I met in 1985 when I was dating his brother. I was 27 and Tony was 32. I never liked him; I thought he was smug. His brother and I eventually married, and we lived in Glen Oaks, Queens. Tony lived in Levittown, and we rarely saw him at family functions due to his work schedule.

In 1991, my husband died. At the funeral Tony took on the responsibility as my brother-in-law, never leaving my side, showing support, love and compassion. He continued being supportive, and we would meet once a week at my home for dinner. I had three children — two from a previous marriage — who were 3, 7 and 10, and we lived in Floral Park. Tony was separated from his wife but would bring his two children, who were 9 and 11, with him.

A few months later, he asked me if I wanted to go someplace without the children. So we went out for drinks and to a dance club in Huntington. We realized then that we were falling in love and became inseparable.

After Tony’s divorce became final in 1993, we went into Manhattan to see the Broadway musical “Tommy,” and then to dinner. At the restaurant, I saw Barry Manilow sitting nearby and was so preoccupied watching him that it took me a moment to realize that Tony was getting down on one knee and holding an engagement ring. I said “yes” and the other diners clapped and congratulated us.

Tony took on the role as father to my children as well as his own. Those days of having five children under one roof was amazing; crazy, but still amazing. Each one was treated differently, yet all loved like our own. Tony was the calm to my storm and always knew how to make all of us laugh.

He was the manager at Bobby Rubino’s, a barbecue and ribs restaurant in Freeport that has since closed. I was working as a medical assistant for a private practice in Bayside, Queens. He encouraged me to go back to college. While working, I attended school part-time and received an associate degree from Queensborough Community College in 1997. That year, I passed the boards to practice as a registered nurse.

We were married on Jan. 9, 1994, in my home. Our children took part in the ceremony and were included in the vows. Afterward, we had a small reception at a restaurant with our family and friends. In 2006 we bought our home in Floral Park.

We now have added a son-in-law and a granddaughter to our family. Sadly, Tony’s daughter has passed away.

Tony has been a sales executive at a men’s clothier in Manhasset since 2001. I retired in 2014 after 15 years as a registered nurse in the ICU at North Shore University Hospital in Manhasset.

Since our anniversary is right after the holidays and the New Year, we tend to keep it simple. No gifts, just a quiet night out for dinner. Every day is a celebration with Tony as long as we are together. He is and always will be my love, my life, my everything!

— With Virginia Dunleavy

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