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Love story: Huntington natives Gary and Diane Brooks

When pen pals Gary and Diane Brooks, formerly of Huntington, finally met, it was love at first sight. Diane tells their story.

My husband and I were both born at Huntington Hospital in 1942. Gary grew up in Huntington, and I grew up in Melville.

In 1962, my father, Det. Lt. John Yacino of the Suffolk County Police Department, stopped in The Long-Islander newspaper office to place an ad. Adele Brooks, who had gone to high school with my father, worked there.

As they talked about their families, Adele mentioned her son, Gary, was a chaplain's assistant in the U.S. Army, stationed in Mannheim, Germany, with the 3rd Reconnaissance Squadron, 8th Cavalry. My father told her I was active in church ministry and that perhaps Gary and I would like to write each other.

When my father came home and asked if I would like to write to Gary, I was not especially interested. I put the paper with his name and address in my desk drawer.

After a month of my father encouraging me to write, I finally did. I wrote about myself, hobbies, interests and closed by saying, "The only reason that I am writing to you is because my father asked me to, and if you do not want to write back, that would be fine with me."

Gary wrote back right away, and as pen pals we exchanged letters and photos for 18 months. During that time I met his parents. Gary was a nice guy, but I didn't have any romantic feelings toward him.

In 1963 Gary was discharged and came home to Huntington. I invited him to join my parents at our house for dinner. As soon as I saw him at the front door, it was love at first sight. I knew I was going to marry him. We dated eight days in a row, and then Gary proposed to me at Little Vincent's Pizza on New York Avenue in Huntington Village.

We were married June 13, 1964, at the Huntington Assembly of God Pentecostal Church on New York Avenue in Huntington Station. We moved to Florida, where Gary started classes at Trinity College of Florida.

He was ordained as a Baptist minister in 1969. We served as missionaries in Central America for 13 years, then pastored churches in Michigan and Florida. We have two children and two grandchildren.

Gary retired in 2001 and now pastors a seasonal church. I retired in 2007 as a certified nursing assistant at a hospice. We keep busy as volunteers and with many outdoor activities.

In October, Gary and I returned to Huntington for a visit and were delighted to get a slice of pizza at the pizzeria where we became engaged 46 years ago.

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