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Long IslandSuffolk

Love Story: Dennis and Barbara Smith of Greenlawn

Dennis Smith of Greenlawn recalls how a romance with Barbara Buerkle blossomed as a result of helping out a friend.

My family moved from Brooklyn to New Hyde Park in 1947, the year I was born. When the time came for me to start school, my parents sent me and my two brothers to Notre Dame Catholic Elementary School.

In 1958, Barbara Buerkle and her family moved into the parish and she also attended the school. We were both in the sixth grade. However, the school separated the boys from the girls except at recess, when we were all together in the schoolyard.

My best friend and Barbara took the same bus to school, and when eighth grade began, in 1960, he became very interested in her but was too shy to ask her out. I told him that I would call Barbara and ask if she wanted to go on a double date with him to the local bowling alley.

She accepted, and it was the beginning of many double dates. Each time we went out, I was with a different girl.

Barbara and I had good conversations together, and I began to realize that she was a special girl, not only beautiful on the outside, but even more beautiful on the inside. Unfortunately, she was dating my best friend. When we graduated from grammar school, my friend moved away. Since we were too young to drive, he would not be able to see Barbara. After okaying it with him, I called Barbara to ask her out, not on a double date this time but on a date with me. She accepted, and we went miniature golfing.

Barbara and I attended Herricks Junior and Senior High School, and at our junior prom I asked her to go steady with me.

After we graduated from high school, she went on to attend Molloy Catholic College for Women in Rockville Centre. I was drafted and did a tour of duty in Vietnam with the U.S. Army's 4th Infantry. Barbara waited for me and supported me with letters and goody packages during the year I was overseas.

I returned home in September 1968, and that Christmas Eve we became engaged. We married on May 3, 1970, at Notre Dame Church.

Barbara is a nurse at St. Francis Hospital Cardiac Fitness Center, and I am the operations manager for Swimline Corp. in Edgewood. We celebrated our 40th anniversary this year with a weekend getaway to New York City. God has blessed us with three wonderful children; we have eight beautiful grandchildren.

I am eternally grateful to my elementary school friend, for without him I would not have my beautiful Barbara.


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