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Love Story: It took a trip upstate to light the spark at home

Dolores and Bill Rigert of Deer Park met

Dolores and Bill Rigert of Deer Park met in 1948 when they were in the same homeroom at Bayside High School. Credit: Bill Rigert

Dolores Rigert of Deer Park talks about meeting her husband, Bill.

Bill and I, Dolores Keller then, started at Bayside High School in Queens together in 1948. Through four years, we never spent time together except during homeroom.

In the summer of 1950, our families happened to be vacationing upstate in East Durham and coincidentally attended the same church. We said say hello to each other one Sunday and asked where each was staying (I was at Butterfly Farm and Bill was at Edgewood Falls Farm), but that was our only contact.

During the school year we would meet in the neighborhood periodically. The same thing was said, “Have you been up to East Durham?” His answer: “Not much.” Mine: “Every year.”

On Memorial Day 1955 my girlfriends and I headed to East Durham for the weekend. I was driving. While going around Hawthorne Circle, which once joined the Taconic and Saw Mill River parkways in Westchester County, we were passed by a car with Bill sitting in the front seat. He couldn’t help but see us because we had decorated the car for the weekend jaunt. He saw me and was wide-eyed. I yelled, “See you up there!” My girlfriends and I picked him up at Edgewood Falls. It was fun — we three girls taking out a guy. We had a great time going to different resorts. Bill rode home with us. I learned he lived only a few blocks away.

On June 9, which happened to be Bill’s birthday, my friends and I were decorating my parent’s basement for a bridal shower for my girlfriend Rainy. At my suggestion, we called Bill, sang "Happy Birthday" and invited him over. He and a friend joined us. I mentioned we did a lot of fun things on weekends and asked would they like to join us. They said, “OK, give us a call.” We started going out as a group, and a short while later Bill asked me to go steady. I said yes, and we dated for a year.

We got engaged at Breezy Knoll in East Durham in June 1956 surrounded by friends; we were married June 30, 1957, at St. Kevin Roman Catholic Church in Flushing. We had a lovely reception at the New Hyde Park Inn and honeymooned at Pocono Gardens Lodge for two weeks.

While planning our wedding, Bill had received his draft papers along with a subway token. He got a deferment because of his job, but he left for the Army a year later.

My parents made an apartment in their house for us. Bill was stationed in Fort Dix, New Jersey, for six months. Our first son, Bill, was born in October 1958. We left the apartment in 1964 with three children in tow and moved to Deer Park, where we had our fourth child and have lived since.

In 1980 I started working in Newsday’s Finance Department. It was a fun job and a fun place to work. I was there 15 years. Bill was a moldmaker for plastic parts and retired in 1999 from Progress Mold in Farmingdale.

We’ve had many nice vacations with the whole family, like a cruise for our 50th wedding anniversary and another for our 80th birthdays. Each time, we were a crowd of 20. For our 60th anniversary, we all went to Sunny Hill Resort in Greenville, one town from East Durham.

Bill and I have eight grandchildren and one great-granddaughter that we love spending time with. We go to Atlantic City and Dover Downs to donate regularly to the casinos. We have wintered in Florida for 18 years. Our retirement years have been wonderful.

— With Ann Donahue-Smukler

TELL US ABOUT HOW YOU MET. Access the online form at newsday.com/lilovestory — or send an anecdote along with your phone number and a photo to ann.smukler@newsday.com, 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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