'She was mine from the beginning'

Local couple, married 65 years, share their tips for happiness


“We care for each other,” said Leonora Coleman, 87, a lifelong East Meadow resident. “The love is always there.”

On Thursday, Leonora and Robert Coleman planned to celebrate their 65th Valentine’s Day as a married couple. The pair lived on Richmond Road in East Meadow for more than 60 years, until 2011, when they moved down the street to Sunrise Senior Living of East Meadow, on Glenn Curtiss Boulevard.

Robert, who will turn 90 in June, grew up in North Merrick, and attended Mepham High School in Bellmore in the late 1930s. He was drafted into the Air Force when he was 18, and served as a crew chief in the 8th Air Force’s 355th Fighter Group in World War II. Stationed in England, Robert’s crew repaired and maintained the planes that were protecting bombers from German aircraft attack.

After the war, Robert was assigned to join the Allied forces in their occupation of Germany, but before long he was discharged and sent home.

Leonora, the former Leonora Julie Ozarkow, said she has known Robert since she was a child, but the two never dated. “I knew him as a neighborhood boy,” she recalled.

One morning in 1946, Robert, while driving in his car, spotted Leonora, who was waiting at a bus stop to go to work. He offered her a ride, and then asked if she wanted to go on a date. “And I said I was already dating someone,” Leonora recounted.

“You’re not wearing a ring,” Robert replied.

“And so I did,” said Leonora. “I went out with him.”

A year later, the two were married in St. Ladislaus Catholic Church in Hempstead. Two years after that, they moved into their newly built Richmond Road house, a mere two houses away from Leonora’s childhood home.

“I really loved her,” said Robert. “She was mine from the beginning.”

A lifetime together

“Things weren’t easy,” said Leonora. “We were both children of the Depression.”

She attended the Front Street School, a former K-12 school at the corner of Front Street and East Meadow Avenue. On Dec. 5, 1950, the school burned down, and the corner is now home to the East Meadow Public Library.

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