Diane and Bob Keeling. (Photo courtesy the Glen Cove Senior Center)

Celebrate Love

An interview with two longtime married couples

Feb. 14 is a day we get to celebrate love every year.
Last year, the Glen Cove Oyster Bay Record Pilot interviewed couples from the Glen Cove Senior Center and the Life Enrichment Center of Oyster Bay.
This year, the Record Pilot is continuing the tradition with another two couples, both of whom have been married for 46 years.
The Record Pilot wishes these two couples and all of our readers a lovely Valentine’s Day.

Kathleen and Stephen Pagano, members of the Life Enrichment Center of Oyster Bay
Married 46 years
How they met: Before graduating from Floral Park Memorial High School, Stephen Pagano was flipping through his high school yearbook when he spotted a photo of Kathleen Pagano, then a sophomore. “I said ‘Oh, what a beautiful looking girl and how sweet she looks,’” Pagano recalled. “So I did my best to find out who she was. Then I graduated, and it was Kathleen, and we had some mutual friends. I found out who she was and I was able to finally meet her in a town where we both lived, in Bellerose.”
Their first date was at a local movie theater to see Big Jake starring John Wayne.
They continued dating for five years until they got engaged. Kathleen was 20, and Stephen was 22. They explained that it was a mutual engagement. “We were so close and we didn’t think we could live without each other,” Stephen said, adding that he asked Kathleen’s father before, as was customary.
They were married the following year on July 10, 1977.
“We were young when we got married,” Kathleen said. “But we knew.”
The day of their wedding was perfect weather, sunny and cool. They got married at Our Lady of Victory in Floral Park and held the reception at the Roslyn Country Club.
During their honeymoon in Bermuda, New York experienced a heat wave that led to the New York City Blackout of 1977.
Their lives together: Kathleen was a floral designer before becoming a line dancer. Currently, Kathleen teaches line dancing at the Life Enrichment Center of Oyster Bay and the Glen Cove Senior Center. Stephen was a music teacher, high school choral director and musical theater director at Freeport High School for 30 years. Kathleen choreographed the musicals that Stephen directed.
Stephen also taught at a summer teen theater program, which Kathleen would choreograph as well. He taught at Five Towns College for 12 years before retiring in 2018.
He continues to direct, guest conduct, lecture and write.
Kathleen was able to convince Stephen to take ballroom dancing lessons with her, and even though he thought he wasn’t much of a dancer, he obliged. They’ve been dancing now for approximately 20 years, Kathleen said.
“Now we do very well as dancers,” Stephen said. “It’s an important part of our lives together.”
They had a daughter together named Cadence, after a musical term. She’s now 37 and is married with two children.
“We’re busy with them,” Kathleen said of their grandchildren. “It’s really a lot of joy and fun… They keep us going.”
Stephen explained that he and Kathleen have to balance all their endeavors.
“We went to Italy last spring and we’re going to Florida,” Stephen said, adding that they like to do local getaways as well. “We make a balance where we’re both doing things. I still play tennis, we both dance and we have our grandkids. It’s a nice balance.”
Kathleen added that dance is also a social outlet for them.
They currently live in East Meadow.
Their secret to a long and healthy marriage: Being married for over four decades, Kathleen and Stephen have been through both good and bad moments.
“I think it’s a lot of support, communication,” Kathleen said. “We grew together, as the years went on. I think we’re soul mates. I think it’s fate that we’re together. And I think the term love conquers all is very truthful… because when you have a deep connection, when you’re together with someone, you want to work at it.”
Stephen added that it’s important to support each person’s passion.
“Kathleen knows that music is my life,” Stephen said. “I think part of it is to support your spouse, to be with them and give them all your attention. Be their biggest cheerleader.”

Diane and Bob Keeling, members of the Glen Cove Senior Center
Married for 46 years
How they met: Bob Keeling was working as a letter carrier in Glen Cove for the United States Postal Service, and the dental office Diane Keeling was working at was on his route.
“We just struck up a conversation when I brought the mail in,” Bob said.
After a couple of visits, Diane said, the dentist came out and said “When are you going to ask her out already?”
Their first date was at Diane’s family home.
“She made a barbecue with steak and potatoes, typical stuff,” Bob said. “I said to her ‘do you have any ketchup?’ And to this day, whenever we have steak, she always makes comments about that. Ketchup [with steak], she never really heard of that.”
Diane had actually asked Bob to marry her on Sadie Hawkins Day, which falls in November. It’s a tradition where women ask men to dance, date or marry them.
They got married in 1977 on Diane’s parent’s anniversary, May 1, celebrating at a catering hall in Manhasset. It was a beautiful day, about 75 degrees.
They had their honeymoon at Paradise Steams in the Poconos. While staying at the hotel, the Poconos experienced a rare snowstorm.
“We almost got snowed in,” Diane said. “There was 8 inches of snow. They were very surprised in that area.”
The storm is often referred to as The Mother’s Day Storm of 1977.
Their lives together: Bob was promoted to management in the United States Postal Service, working back and forth between Washington D.C. and traveling the country.
“I had a 37-year career in the Postal Service,” Bob said. “I moved back to Long Island and I was postmaster here for 12 years. I moved up to a higher position and I was what they called the manager of business mail entry, which is basically all the rules of the mail, with the rules and regulations. I had a good 37-year career with the postal service.”
After working at the dental office, Diane worked for a couple of chiropractor offices. For 18 years, Diane worked for a filtered water company until the company moved to Florida.
“I just never went back to work because I started to have some medical issues,” Diane said.
The first apartment Bob and Diane had was in Glen Cove, as was the first house they bought. Their son was born in 1983. He works as a paralegal in insurance.
Since retirement, Bob has been supporting Diane’s health.
“It’s been a medical challenge, but we get through it,” Bob said. “Good old love, respect, commitment. We have a lot of compromises, good days and bad days like everyone has. Of course, it’s not a perfect marriage, but it’s a happy marriage. We take each day as it comes.”
Their secret to a long and healthy marriage:
Bob said he and Diane always believed that they should never go to bed angry.
When asked what advice they have for newly wedded couples, Bob said they should respect each other and Diane said they should listen to each other.
“Be willing to compromise,” Bob said.
Diane added that they should be ready to handle anything.
“Some days you’re different than others and you have to be always with a level head,” Diane said.

Just Getting Started

Kevin James Thornton’s super second act

By Amanda Olsen • May 10, 2024


Dining guide-spring
  • No events