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Love Story: Romance began at North Babylon High School

Pat and Joe Licata of North Babylon are

Pat and Joe Licata of North Babylon are celebrating their 55th anniversary this year. Credit: Licata family

Joseph Licata recalls how he fell in love with his future wife, Patricia, when both were in high school.

I still believe in “love at first sight.” It all started 59 years ago when I was 17 and just starting my senior year at North Babylon High School. One morning, my homeroom door opened and in walked Patricia Dyer, the most beautiful girl I had ever seen. She was a sophomore collecting attendance sheets, and I almost fell from my desk as I gazed into her eyes then followed her every step. I made it my mission to meet her.

Later on that day, at my locker, I spoke to my friend (and Pat’s high school sorority sister) Geri Terito. Geri told me that Pat was a “goody two-shoes” and might not be interested in meeting a senior, but that she would try to set up an introduction. It took a bit of convincing, but Geri finally introduced us — and that was the beginning of our love story, which all these years later is still going strong.

As we became acquainted, we discovered we had a lot in common, including that we had both moved to North Babylon when we were 9. (Pat was originally from Queens Village, and I was from Bay Ridge, Brooklyn). Pat and I were inseparable throughout the rest of high school. We have fond memories of high school; I was voted “best looking male” in 1961, and Pat was chosen “best looking female” in 1963. Pat was also North Babylon High School’s first “Football Queen,” predecessor to Homecoming Queen.

Pat and I dated for about three years, then in November 1964 we married at Ss. Cyril and Methodius Roman Catholic Church in Deer Park. After the wedding, we went on a honeymoon to Bermuda then settled in our first apartment in the Village of Babylon.

In the early years of our marriage, Pat would place love notes in my lunch bag, and I have saved them to this day. I still work in the family business, Model Carpets in Deer Park, since starting there in 1972; Pat worked with me there for the first 10 years. For many years, Pat owned a home-based custom cake business called Patycaak. She still likes to express her creative side by making custom cakes for our 11 grandchildren. Pat is also former president of the West Islip Breast Cancer Coalition, fulfilling her passion for helping others.

We take our religion and spiritual life quite seriously. Pat is a eucharistic minister and lector at the same church where we were married. Our constant faith has guided us through all the marriage “bumps in the road,” and we believe this is truly God’s gift to us. Our family includes three amazing children and their spouses, and 11 fantastic grandchildren. My brother, Bob, and other dear friends have made our lives complete. In fact, we are still good friends with Geri, who introduced us so many years ago.

To keep our love alive, Pat and I enjoy happy hours and watching baseball together. Every Friday evening is “date night.” We are still best friends, and our storybook life continues to grow as we spend time with our loved ones.

Unconditional love is the best way to ensure a lifelong marriage. We still live in North Babylon, not far from the high school where met and that holds the locker where our love story began. We thank God every day for our beautiful life together.

— With Laura Mann

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 Love Story, Newsday, 6 Corporate Center Dr., Melville, NY 11747; or email 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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