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Love Story: A grade school crush became life commitment

Philip and Kathleen Lattanzio of North Bellmore met

Philip and Kathleen Lattanzio of North Bellmore met in public school. They celebrated their 47th anniversary in August. Credit: Lattanzio family

Kathleen Lattanzio of North Bellmore recalls growing up with her future husband, Philip.

We met at PS 137 in Rosedale, Queens, in the spring of 1961. My name was Kathleen Molinaro then. We were both 12 years old and in the sixth grade. We’d walk to school and back home together with a group of our friends.

Phil had a crush on me, and I had a crush on his friend. His friend, knowing Phil liked me, kept telling me what a nice guy Phil was, and I soon became interested in Phil. At one point, we exchanged our grammar school graduation photos. That September, Phil and I both went on to JHS 231 in Springfield Gardens, and we would hang out with our friends from the neighborhood after school.

When we graduated from junior high school in 1963, Phil started classes at Brooklyn Technical High School, and I went to Jamaica Vocational High School. Our first official date was on July 22, 1964, when we were 15. We went to Green Acres Bowl in Valley Stream with our friends. Phil paid for my games and bought me a Coke. We continued dating.

In the spring of 1967, our senior year, neither of our high schools had proms, so we and some of our friends planned our own prom night. The girls wore gowns and the guys wore tuxedos, and we all went to the Copacabana in Manhattan. The next day, we went to Rockaway Beach.

After graduation, Phil worked as a summer helper with the electricians’ union, Local 3 IBEW, while attending City University of New York. I worked as a secretary with Overseas National Airways, then with Davis Military Travel Agency at Kennedy Airport.

We had been talking about getting married and, in the summer of 1968, Phil proposed to me at Rockaway Beach. We always knew we wanted to spend our lives together. On Aug. 22, 1970, we were married at St. Clare Church in Rosedale, followed by a reception at The Victorian House on Myrtle Avenue in Glendale. For our honeymoon, we went to Bermuda.

Phil received his bachelor’s degree in civil engineering in 1972 and became a full-time electrician with Local 3, and I became a full-time mom and homemaker.

In 1980, we moved from Rosedale to North Bellmore. I returned to work in 2002 as a teacher’s aide for special education with the North Bellmore Union Free School District.

We both retired in 2010. My mother moved in with us, and I took care of her until she passed away in 2015. Our son and our daughter, who also married their childhood sweethearts, have given us four grandchildren. I have taken care of them during the week since they were babies. Two are now in school, and I still watch the two youngest.

Phil and I like to stay active. Phil loves golfing, and we enjoy taking walks and going to a yoga class together. We also like to travel, and each year we plan a nice vacation for ourselves. We have visited Italy, Paris and Hawaii, and our latest trip was a tour of the Grand Canyon in October 2017 to celebrate our 47th anniversary.

Phil was recently diagnosed with mesothelioma. Once he is done with his treatments, we plan to go back to Bermuda and celebrate together. He has been my best friend and soul mate for so long. We have been blessed.

— With Virginia Dunleavy

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