James Miles was at a party in the spring of 1947 when he overheard his brother Edward ask one of his friends, a pretty young girl, why she wasn't married yet.
"I'm waiting for a guy with a red convertible," the 17-year-old said.
That was Miles' in. He drove at the time a 1940 red Ford convertible. By May 1947, James and Gwen were engaged and in September they were married.
Miles, a staff sergeant in the Marines during World War II, exalted ruler of the Levittown-Hicksville Elks Lodge from 1961 to 1962, and a resident of Bethpage since 1954, died Saturday at the age of 84 of complications from a stroke.
Gwen Miles said James doted on her - waking her every morning, helping her put her robe on, and giving her a hug and a kiss.
Miles was born in Manhattan and raised in the Bronx. He enlisted in the Marines in June 1942 and served in the South Pacific. He was known as "Sergeant Pinky" by the other Marines because of the hue of his always sunburned skin.
He will be buried wearing his Marine Corps pin, of which he was very proud. Gwen remembered a vacation to Scotland in the 1980s when the couple found themselves in a great hall listening to bagpipers. Miles got up to use the restroom, but as he returned the bagpipers began playing the Marine Corps Hymn and he stopped sharply and snapped to attention for the duration of the song.
After leaving the Marines in 1945 he began working for the New York Telephone Co. as an installer and repairman, eventually moving up to a special agent in the security division. He retired in March 1985 and spent many years volunteering in a soup kitchen in Hicksville.
Besides his wife, Miles is survived by daughters Diane Voss of Seaford and Patricia Rosenberger of Bethpage, three grandchildren and three great-grandchildren.
Services will be held at the Arthur F. White Funeral Home of Bethpage Sunday from 7 to 9:30 p.m. and Monday from 2 to 5 p.m. and from 7 to 9:30 p.m. A funeral Mass will be said at St. Martin of Tours Roman Catholic Church in Bethpage on Tuesday at 9:45 a.m. with burial at Calverton National Cemetery to follow.