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Edward and Joan Porco: Greenport couple shared 'such a unique love'

This undated family photo shows Joan and Ed

This undated family photo shows Joan and Ed Porco visiting Cortona, Italy.   Credit: AP/Julia Chachere

He was a by-the-book, buttoned-up conservative whose opinions could be quick and blunt. She was a freethinking, authority-snubbing liberal who would draw stories out in meandering conversation.

In the pain of broken marriages, Edward Porco and Joan Powers found new life in each other, however mismatched they might seem. 

“This was such a unique love,” says Julia Chachere, the daughter of Joan, who was 90, and stepdaughter of Ed, who was 89. “And it nurtured and fed them both so well right up until the end.”

The pair, married to others, met on New Year's Eve in 1959. When those marriages eventually unraveled, they had in one another a listening ear. And, in time, that grew to something more.

“It was a surprise to both of them,” says Matthew Chachere, another child of Joan and stepson of Ed.

She was a Brooklyn-born Jewish girl who saw an idol in FDR and a home in protests, a thoughtful teacher-turned-reporter-turned-therapist.

He was a Bronx-born Italian boy, a commodities broker and Republican committeeman who prized punctuality and planning and order.

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And they were in love.

“They didn't try to change the essence of who the other was,” Julia says of the couple, who spent their final years at the Peconic Landing retirement community in Greenport. 

They wed in a simple ceremony on Nov. 18, 1977, at the Nassau County Courthouse, but the marriage brought no immediate end to their differences. She could be messy; he made sure even his tackle box was picture-perfect. She would drape herself in bright splashes from thrift store racks; he was colorblind and sometimes plain. She would wander wherever she pleased — a stranger's yard or an abandoned home or Bernie Madoff's estate — while he would shudder at the thought.

Some things that separated them faded. They traveled and hiked, returning to Montauk, which they adored and worked to protect.

They moved to Peconic Landing, and Alzheimer's began to rob Joan of her words. Ed diligently tended to her every need and read her poetry or the newspaper.

The end came unexpectedly, a blur of rising fevers and careening ambulances and whooshing ventilators. Ed died on March 24 and Joan four days later, each of them alone in different hospitals. Neither knew the other's fate. Julia thinks it was better that way.

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