By Paula Katinas
BAY RIDGE— Love is in the air and the possibilities of romance are everywhere! In honor of Valentine’s Day, we decided to ask well-known people on the local scene how they met their mates.
We think the answers will delight you. Some may even surprise you.
Jim Clark, president of Bay Ridge Fifth Avenue Business Improvement District, was a community affairs officer for the 68th Precinct when he and his wife Joanne first met.
“She was a school crossing guard and I was a cop. I was single and she was single. We used to talk to each other all the time. It just worked out that I took her to lunch one day. I think we went to Hinsch’s,” Clark said.
John Quaglione, deputy chief of staff to state Sen. Marty Golden, met his wife Kerry, a teacher at P.S. 102, the old-fashioned way.
“We were set up on a blind date,” the affable Quaglione said. “Kerry’s uncle, Tim Cochrane, and her Aunt Maria fixed us up.”
Tim Cochrane, known in Bay Ridge political circles for his run at a congressional seat in 2008, approached Quaglione outside St. Anselm Church.
“We were standing outside the church after a funeral. He had known me from Marty’s office and he said, ‘I want you to meet my niece.’ I met Kerry on July 13. It was Friday the 13th. We like to laugh about that. We met at Skinflints. As soon as we sat down, we realized we had so much in common. When we got to talking, it turned out that we knew a lot of the same people. We had the same piano teacher. My sister had been to a Sweet 16 party that she was at,” Quaglione said. “And I knew Kerry’s mom. She teaches at Fort Hamilton. When Kerry told her she had been set up on a blind date with a guy who works for Marty Golden, her mother asked her, ‘You mean with John Q?’”
Quaglione’s friends call him Q.
Mrs. and Mrs. Q were married in St. Anselm Church by the Rev. Michael Louis Gelfant in 2009. The couple now has a baby daughter named Natalie Grace.
Solving a community issue is what brought Josephine Beckmann, district manager of Community Board 10, and her husband John, a police lieutenant, together. At the time she met her husband, Beckmann was working as an aide to Councilman Stephen DiBrienza. John Beckmann was a cop in the Police Department’s Community Patrol Officers Program (C-POP).
“John and I met talking on the phone. I was working for the City Council and he was the C-POP cop for the 66th Precinct. We worked on a community complaint. There was an illegal auto repair shop. The block association complained that the shop was repairing cars on the sidewalk. We worked on it for six months, dealing with the appropriate agencies and consulting with each other on the phone,” Josephine Beckmann said.
They solved the problem.
“The block association wanted to thank John for all of his work. They were going to give him an award. But he couldn’t make it. He had to go to his niece’s baptism. I said to him on the phone, ‘I’m disappointed that I can’t get to meet you. I was looking forward to it after talking on the phone for six months.’ He said to me, ‘Well, let’s get together for a cup of coffee.’ We did!” she said.
The Beckmanns married not too long after that. The couple has two daughters - Jayne, a student at Bucknell University, and Annemarie, a student at Bishop Kearney High School.
All these years later, the Beckmanns still keep in touch with members of that block association. They exchange Christmas cards with the residents.
Bill Guarinello, chairman of Community Board 11 in Bensonhurst, met his wife Donna in May of 1971.
“I was 22 years old. We met at Griswold’s Pub. I was there hanging out with my friends and she was there with her friends. It was a Friday night,” he recalled.
Donna’s love of sports impressed him, he said.
“We struck up a conversation and started talking about basketball. We got married about a year later,” Guarinello said.
Their tale of love is a reminder that fate has a lot of say when it comes to matters of the heart.
“The funny thing is, Donna didn’t want to go out with her friends to Griswold’s that night. What if she had not gone out that night?” Guarinello said.
June Johnson, chair of the Parks Committee of Community Board 10, met her husband Doug at a church dance.
“We met when we were both in high school. I went to Bay Ridge High School and he went to Grady High School. We both lived in Sunset Park. Saint Agatha Church used to have these dances for teenagers. They were called Confraternity Dances. Everyone palled around with each other in a nice way. We got to talking,” she said.
“We lived in a Norwegian neighborhood and he’s a Norwegian,” she said, adding that she was dazzled by his good looks. “He went into the army and went overseas. We got married when he came home.”
Friendship blossomed into romance for power couple Laurie and Andrew Windsor.
“We met at work. We were both working for Blue Cross,” said Laurie Windsor, president of the Community Education Council of School District 20. Her husband is a former president of the Bay Ridge Community Council.
Her husband was her friend for a long time.
“We met in 1989 and we didn’t get married until 1996. We were just friends for the longest time,” she said. “We started out at work together. We were part of the same training class. I always liked him. I thought he was a nice guy. But I never looked at him that way.”
A co-worker’s wedding brought them together.
“A co-worker got married and I asked Andrew to come to the reception with me. That was the start of things,” she said.
So, take heart, all of you singles out there. Romance could be right around the corner for you, or in the case of the Windsors, in the next cubicle!