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Love Story: They were a match that clicked the old-school way

Richard and Gloria Mooney of Floral Park met

Richard and Gloria Mooney of Floral Park met through Operation Match, a forerunner to today's dating apps. Credit: Melanie Marie Mooney

Richard "MoonMan" Mooney of Floral Park Village talks about meeting his wife, Gloria (Peters) Mooney.

Operation Match, a forerunner to today's online dating programs, connected us in 1965. Questionnaires were handed out at college campuses and elsewhere that year. Gloria and I each mailed one in. She did it as a lark; I was more serious. Gloria was 17, a freshman at Pratt Institute who lived in Queens Village. She was an Italian-German Lutheran and one of two children. I was 19, Irish Catholic and the oldest of 10 children. I lived in Laurelton, Queens, worked full time at Western Union Telegraph Co. and attended Queensborough Community College part time.

After receiving each other as a "match," we exchanged letters, then photos and phone numbers. We clicked immediately over the phone. Our first date was at a Queens discothèque. I arrived early to Gloria’s house and introduced myself to her family. I waited patiently while she was getting ready. In she walks, and it was love at first sight. The chemistry was instant. I had met my soul mate and had visions of happily ever after. I told my mother that night I had met the girl I was going to marry.

After dating less than six months, I was drafted and volunteered for the U.S. Marine Corps and spent more than a year in Vietnam, where I got the nickname "MoonMan." Gloria and I both survived the 13-month deployment. While I was honorably discharged, Gloria was completing her bachelor’s degree and planned to go for her master’s in education and expected me to do the same, which I did under the G.I. Bill.

Gloria was teaching art at Chaminade High School when I proposed in September 1969 as she sat on the cannon monument in the middle of the Pratt Institute campus. She tearfully said yes while strangers around us started clapping. Because of our different faiths, our first task was finding officiants who would marry us and a place to be married. American Martyrs Church in Bayside, Queens, met our needs. We were married Dec. 13, 1970, at the altar with both a priest and minister officiating, rare for the time.

We moved to Floral Park in 1976. Gloria continued teaching and eventually retired from Glen Cove High School in 2009. I was a career public servant who worked in different city, state and federal agencies before retiring in 2004 as a New York State parole officer.

We were blessed with two daughters, Melissa May and Melanie Marie. They are happily married and have given us six beautiful grandchildren. Our favorite vacation is people-watching at Disney World, which we try to visit annually. We especially enjoy going with our extended family, though COVID-19 forced us to cancel recent plans.

After more than 50 years, my heart still skips a beat when I see Gloria. She is simply the best girlfriend, wife, mother, grandmother and partner, and a dog lover, too. I thank her for being herself and for keeping it real, for being true to ourselves and our core values. Gloria is authentic with a sense of humor. I wouldn’t be the person I am today were it not for her.

Gloria and I liked being active in our community. We were certified husband-and-wife Girl Scout leaders with our own troop, active in the VFW, American Legion, Marine Corps Association, Floral Park-Bellerose Rotary Club and the Floral Park Volunteer Fire Department.

We are completely opposite. Gloria, born Feb. 7, is an Aquarian. Born Aug. 7, I am a Leo. But opposites attract, and although we see things differently, we end up acting together as one.

— 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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