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Rockville Centre couple to celebrate 59th Valentine’s Day

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Traveling, dancing, singing and getting together with friends have been staples of the life Rockville Centre residents Rose and Bob Becchina have shared for 58 years. The past year, of course, has been quite different for them due to the pandemic, yet they have maintained the optimism and commitment that has kept them strong for nearly six decades.

In early 1961, Bob and Rose met where teens across the nation’s suburbs have flocked to make acquaintances for decades: the mall. But it was employment, not love, that brought them together at Roosevelt Field in Garden City: They both worked at Ripley Clothes.

“I was a salesman on the floor, and Rose walked in, looking for evening employment,” Bob, 83, recalled, adding that she was hired on the spot as a credit manager. “I was very impressed with her. I’m still impressed with her — she’s been my soul mate for 58 years.”

On July 21, 1962, just a year and a half after they met, they got married in Huntington. They settled in Rockville Centre in October 1965, where they raised three daughters. All these years later, they remain as active as they can be.

Bob, a retired agent for Prudential Insurance, and Rose, 79, a retired bookkeeper, have been members of the Sandel Senior Center for 15 years. Rose is a member of the Trip Committee and Bob chairs the Sandel Circle, a group that, before the pandemic, visited local nursing homes and assisted-living facilities once a month and led sing-a-longs with residents. “It’s wonderful for the committee members,” Bob said, “and the audiences love us.”

Over they years, they have participated in many trips organized by the senior center’s Trip Committee. They have taken three cruises with fellow senior center members and numerous bus trips to cities on the East coast. “We’ve had the opportunity to do lots of things we would have never done without the center,” Bob said. “It gives us the opportunity to receive, and we give back as well.”

Rose said that she’s not the type of person to normally sit home all day, and misses the activities offered by the center. The facility reopened to members last November, but she said she feels it’s best to maintain a low profile until the pandemic is over. “I’m not ready yet,” she said.

Over the past 11 months, the couple have limited their social engagements to their family. Two of their daughters live nearby, in Oceanside and Baldwin, and the third lives less than an hour away, in Miller Place. “Our daughters are phenomenal,” Rose said. “They always have us in mind.”

As for the rest of the time, “Thank God for Netflix,” Rose said.

They are both scheduled to get the Covid vaccine on Feb. 28 at Jones Beach. Until then, they will continue to lay low. Instead of a traditional Valentine’s Day dinner out, the plan, they said, is to order in, though they have not yet decided on the cuisine. “We can order from any restaurant in Rockville Centre and we’ll get a good meal,” Rose said.

Asked about the secret to a long-lasting marriage, her husband said, “It’s all about love of family. Without family, there’s nothing. What keeps me going is, if I’m mad about having to do something that I don’t want to do, I say, ‘I have to do it for my family’s benefit.’ That has kept my marriage strong and has rubbed off on my family, too.”