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Love Story: Romance started with ticket to Rush concert in California

Denise and Frank Ranelli of Massapequa Park on

Denise and Frank Ranelli of Massapequa Park on their wedding day in August 1993. Credit: Ranelli Family

Denise Ranelli of Massapequa Park recalls a lucky ticket that led to her meeting husband Frank.

I was managing Oshman’s, a sporting goods store in Victorville, California, when Nike sponsored a statewide contest. For every pair of Nike shoes an employee sold, he or she was eligible to send in an entry form for a chance to win concert tickets.

It was April 1990, and through some strange turn of events, my friend at the store and I each won a pair of tickets to see the band Rush in Los Angeles.

I was 28 and recently divorced, with an 8-year-old son. I had moved to California two years earlier, when my then-husband, who was in the Air Force, was assigned to George Air Force Base in Victorville. I was originally from Pittsburgh.

Since I wasn’t dating anyone at the time, I asked my friend to help me sell my spare ticket. The man she was seeing told a co-worker named Frank Ranelli about the concert. Frank agreed to buy the ticket from me.

The four of us went to the concert together, making the two-hour drive to Los Angeles. We had a blast! Frank asked me out when we returned home that night.

We started dating, usually going to an area restaurant or the small concert hall near my home. Frank and my son got along very well.

Frank was 24 and from Merrick. He had served in the Air Force from 1984 to 1990, first at Ramstein Air Force Base in Germany, assigned to law enforcement and narcotics detection with a K-9, and then at Edwards Air Force Base in California, working as security police / K-9 handler and trainer. He was now back at Edwards doing the same job as a civilian. He was also divorced.

Some months later Frank returned to his family home in Merrick. He got a job working security at the United Nations in Manhattan as a K-9 handler — and asked me to join him.

He came out to California a few times to see us until, finally in February 1991, my son and I were able to move to Long Island to be with Frank.

The next year Frank and I bought land in the Pocono Mountains in Pennsylvania. We became engaged in September 1992 on the site, and we began building our house.

On Aug. 22, 1993, a beautiful, sunny afternoon, we were married on a riverboat in Pittsburgh.

Frank commuted from Pennsylvania to his job in Manhattan until 2004. We missed being out West, so Frank took a leave of absence from his job and we sold our house. We then moved to Henderson, Nevada, for a year. In 2005, we returned to Long Island and purchased our current home in Massapequa Park.

Frank and I have a son together. He and our oldest son are very close even though there is an almost 20-year difference in their ages.

Since 2011, I have been teaching English as a second language at PS 106 in the Parkchester section of the Bronx. Frank is now security sergeant at the UN.    

We enjoy traveling, especially cruising, and celebrated our 25th anniversary last year on a cruise to Aruba, Curaçao and the Dominican Republic with our youngest son, who is now 17.    

My uncle would always tell my husband that the Rush concert ticket was the most expensive ticket Frank ever bought! It cost much more than the $20 he paid me!

— With Virginia Dunleavy

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