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Love Story: He didn't get the tip, but he got the girl

Ray and Marilyn Walther of Bethpage, seen last

Ray and Marilyn Walther of Bethpage, seen last year at the Planting Fields Arboretum in Oyster Bay, will celebrate their 65th wedding anniversary in August 2021. Credit: Julianne Jablonski

Ray Walther of Bethpage talks about meeting his wife, Marilyn (Weiss).

In August 1952, my brother, Bob, who was at sea in the Navy, decided to send flowers to his girlfriend, Dorothy. I lived with our family in Bellerose, Queens, so I offered to drop them off at her house in Flatbush, Brooklyn.

When I got to Dorothy’s house, a cute girl answered the door. I told her I had flowers for Dorothy. She quickly ran off to get Dorothy and reportedly a tip for me (which curiously never found its way to my pocket). Dorothy came to the door and introduced me to her sister, Marilyn, who had greeted me at the door. My dad had known the family and had mentioned her to me at one point. He actually said, "Boy, do I have a girl for you!"

The next time my brother was home on leave, Marilyn and I joined Bob and Dorothy for dinner and then dancing afterward. Marilyn had a warm smile and laughed easily. She was just fun to be with, and she made me feel special. She was 18 and worked in policy planning for a life insurance company in Manhattan. I had just enlisted in the Navy.

We started dating. A month later, I was sent to Bainbridge, Maryland, for boot camp. My family came for a visit and brought Marilyn along.

After going through radio training school, I served as a radioman second class assigned to the USS Carpellotti (APD-136) out of Little Creek Naval Base in Virginia Beach, Virginia (now known as Joint Expeditionary Base Little Creek-Fort Story). I would see Marilyn whenever I could, and we exchanged letters while I was away. I began to realize that she was someone special and very important to me.

Being at sea, particularly at night, was a unique experience. When the reflection of a full moon danced on the water, I would think about Marilyn and a life together with her. With a new moon, there were so many stars I felt I could reach up and put one in my pocket, one I would give to Marilyn.

I was home on leave one day in 1954 and Marilyn was visiting. We were in the kitchen while Marilyn was ironing my uniform. I looked at her and asked if she would like to become "Mrs. Walther" and spend the rest of her life with me. She smiled and said, "That sounds like a great idea." It doesn’t sound romantic, but true romance is falling in love with the same person all over again each morning.

We were married Aug. 25, 1956, at St. Brendan Catholic Church in Flatbush, Brooklyn, two weeks before I finished my military service. We honeymooned at Penn Hills Resort in Pennsylvania’s Pocono Mountains.

After our honeymoon, we moved to a third-floor apartment on Newkirk Avenue in Flatbush. We lived there for three years before buying a house in Bethpage where we raised nine children and still live today. We have 25 grandchildren and nine great-grandchildren who keep us young and active.

Marilyn was a stay-at-home mom while raising our nine children. She worked part time as a switchboard operator at Farmingdale State College for a few years after our youngest was in high school. I was a printer at Newsday for 30 years and retired in 1994.

Our lives have been full and blessed with family and faith-filled friends during the 65 years of our loving relationship. There is so much more for us to experience together.

— 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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