Roy Willis of Massapequa recalls the day he met his future wife, Irene.
In 1947, I was 19 and serving in the Naval Reserves as a yeoman second class. Once a year we’d go to sea for a training mission. My buddy and I were just back from a tour of duty in Cuba on the aircraft carrier USS Leyte CV32. I lived in Rego Park, Queens, and we decided to go to the Valencia Theater in Jamaica to see the film “Captain from Castile,” starring Tyrone Power and Jean Peters. Inside the theater we saw two girls and decided to sit next to them and strike up a conversation. I was dazzled by the younger girl. She was strikingly beautiful, with the most appealing blue eyes. Her name was Irene Wimmer. She was 15 and a sophomore at Andrew Jackson High School in Cambria Heights.
I managed to get her telephone number and, after calling her a couple of times, she finally agreed to go on a date.
Her parents owned Wimmer’s Bakery in Hollis and they lived above the bakery. I picked her up for our first date and we went to a dance at Our Lady Queen of Martyrs Church in Forest Hills, and then to the Howard Johnson’s on Queens Boulevard for ice cream.
We continued dating, going to the dances, having picnics at Cunningham Park near her home, skating at the Queens Roller Rink in Rego Park or going into Manhattan. She had an 11 p.m. curfew. If we lingered outside her home after a date, her parents would lean on the buzzer that unlocked the front door.
In 1950, we went to her senior prom at the Pierre Hotel in Manhattan and then to the Latin Quarter.
Irene graduated and got a job at G. Schmier Music Corp. in Manhattan doing general office work in the record department. Two years later, when she was 20, I asked her to marry me.
We wed on April 13, 1952, at Sts. Joachim and Anne Church in Queens Village then drove our new 1952 Plymouth Concord to St. Augustine and Daytona Beach, Florida for our honeymoon. Coming home, we had just enough toll money for the bridges into New York.
Irene became a full-time mother and homemaker. We have five children who have given us four grandchildren.
In 1958 we moved to Massapequa, and the following year I completed my service with the Naval Reserves. I worked for Treadwell Engineering Corp. for 28 years, spending most of my time away from home as a service engineer to the Polaris Missile Submarine Program. I unexpectedly went to sea during the Cuban missile crisis in 1962. Irene had no idea where I was for a few weeks. She did an amazing job all those years tending the flock while I was away. I retired in 1984 and had my own construction company, Willair Corp., for a few years.
I have a pilot’s license, and we’ve flown around the country and to the Bahamas. I recently sold my plane and have stopped flying.
We surely have been blessed, and the years have been kind. Irene is 85 and I am 88. She is still as beautiful as ever and has a personality such that all who meet her just fall under her spell. I think she mesmerized me from the start and I am totally grateful for it. I hug and kiss her every morning and every night. She’s a treasure worth keeping. For our 65th wedding anniversary this month. I took Irene out to dinner.
— With Virginia Dunleavy