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Sea Cliff couple Ann and Dan DiPietro recall the past 50 years

‘They’re each other’s biggest fans’

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When Ann and Dan DiPietro, of Sea Cliff, explain how they got together, the movie “When Harry Met Sally” immediately comes to mind. “We naturally were a couple even though we weren’t,” Ann said.

The two knew each other professionally through a tutoring program at St. John’s University in the late ‘60s; at the time they were involved with other people. Then, one fateful December night a mutual friend arranged for Dan to escort Ann to a holiday party; at this point they were both single.

Ann said, “That night he was making a lot of funny, witty comments . . . ”

Dan continued, “and she laughed at every single one.”

On New Year’s Day 1968 they had their first date; they went to the movies and saw “The Graduate.” This May, they will celebrate their 50th wedding anniversary.

The DiPietros moved to the village in 1986 and raised three children — Daniel, Justin and Gillian — in their quaint Victorian home on the corner of 10th and Main. Dan, a banker by trade, became the commissioner of Sea Cliff Little League, and Ann, a librarian at Stenson Memorial Children’s Library. Recently she assumed the role as president of the Sea Cliff Civic Association, and together they host countless events for their friends and neighbors all over the village.

“Growing up in Sea Cliff is idyllic for anybody but growing up with my parents was almost too picture perfect,” Gillian said. “We did see a healthy amount of gentle ribbing, but underneath that ribbing there was an amazing mutual respect for each other, and an ability to laugh at themselves.”

Ann acknowledged that while many long-lasting marriages require hard work, for her and her husband “it’s always been easy.” Dan accredits their success to a shared sensibility and outlook on life, and an inclination to enjoy “the littlest things.” Like having dinner at their “permanent table” at Metropolitan Bistro, where they eat four nights a week, or performing live reenactments of beloved literary works with a community theatre troupe.

An interesting quirk of the couple is their ironic fandom for “Fawlty Towers,” a British sitcom from the ‘70s that depicts a struggling hotel manager who’s constantly berated by his wife. Another sect of English culture they enjoy is British novelist Barbara Pym — they have an entire bookshelf in their dining room dedicated to her works. The DiPietros are devoted members of The Barbara Pym Society, and have attended 18 society meetings in Cambridge, Mass. and nine at Oxford University.

Ann said, “Dan once presented a paper in Cambridge comparing the different styles of marriage within her novels . . .”

Dan continued, “and she helped me with it.”

Once a month the couple invites their book club to their home for dinner and discussion. Ann acts as the host; Dan acts as the chef. Gillian said this arrangement best demonstrates the couple’s unwavering enthusiasm for one another.

“My mom loves the spotlight, but she always wants people to know how amazing my dad is, and my dad throws himself into my mom’s parties,” she said. “They genuinely are each other’s biggest fans.”

The Herald Gazette asked the DiPietros what their favorite thing was about their partner.

“Dan is very funny and kind, and it’s so easy to be together — you never have to second guess it,” Ann said. “Whenever I see him, even if it’s across a crowded room, my heart leaps for joy.”

“Ann is a fabulous storyteller, but also a great listener and her style of leading is so interesting to observe,” Dan said. “She attracts great people and people want to be around her. She’s the smartest person I know.”

When asked what the secret to their success has been, Ann credits good fortune and good luck. “Every day I think we’ve had it made,” she said with a smile. “We were so lucky to meet, and we also don’t really annoy each other.”

Dan, finishing her sentence, said, “We would’ve driven other people crazy.”