TINTON FALLS, NJ – It was 73 years ago when Phil and Rosemarie Genovese met at Red Bank Catholic High School in Red Bank, N.J. — he was 16 and she was 15 years old. Rosemarie was a cheerleader, and she caught his eye at a football game.
“I saw this girl with red hair and green eyes and I had to meet her,” said Phil.
Rosemarie was just as smitten as Phil when they met.
“I thought he was cute,” said Rosemarie. “I was going to make him mine.”
They talked a little in school before Phil worked up the courage to ask her out on a date to the movies. Rosemarie said yes, but he still needed approval from her parents. Phil had met Rosemarie’s dad in passing prior to asking her out, so he didn’t expect rejection.
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“I was feeling pretty confident,” said Phil.
Even so, Phil was relieved when Rosemarie’s parents gave them the green light. Her father ended up driving them to their first date because Phil didn’t have his license yet. Phil and Rosemarie’s dad ended up getting along really well.
“They only had one child — Rosemarie — and he always wanted a boy,” said Phil.
The couple was young when Phil proposed to Rosemarie at his parents’ house — he was 19 and she was turning 17 years old.
”Everyone said our marriage would not last because we were so young”, said Rosemarie.
Today, Phil is 89 and will celebrate his 90th birthday in June. Rosemarie is 88 years old. They’ve been married for 70 years.
”I guess we proved them wrong,” said Phil. “We did separate for a period when we were in school, but we found our way back to each other.”
After high school, Phil attended Georgetown University, then transferred to Seton Hall University during his second year. Rosemarie attended Monmouth College. Later, Phil started his own accounting company as a CPA. Rosemarie worked in real estate and part-time as a librarian while raising their three sons. They retired 13 years ago in Shrewsbury, N.J.
The Genoveses rented their first apartment on their own in South Orange, N.J. The rent, including utilities, was under $100 at that time. In 1956, they bought their first home for almost $40K in Shrewsbury, NJ. He was 24 and she was 23 years old. When they transitioned to senior housing three years ago, they sold their longtime home for 12 times more than they paid for it originally.
Now, they have three sons and seven grandchildren who live in Florida, New York, and New Jersey. The kids come to visit Rosemarie and Phil whenever they are in town. Since the pandemic, they haven’t visited as much, but they talk on the phone more.
“In the past, we had the entire family over for a Christmas meal like we did before we came to Arbor,” said Rosemarie. “This meant so much to us.”
The couple has always enjoyed sharing quality time with family, playing tennis, and spending time at the beach. They were part of the Monmouth Beach Bath and Tennis Club for 20 years.
Moving from their home to senior living was an adjustment, but the Genoveses are enjoying their time together in old age at the Arbor Terrace Shrewsbury senior living community in Tinton Falls, N.J. They had to downsize from a midsize home to a one-bedroom apartment in the community, but it has made life a lot easier on them with less work to maintain their home, prepare meals, shop, and so on.
“The services are well worth it,” said Phil. “The entire staff is wonderful. They treat us like family.”
They also have access to nurses if they need medical care.
“The staff is always here for us,” said Rosemarie.
The couple says that life at Arbor Terrace is also a lot of fun! The Arbor Terrace Shrewsbury community provides entertainment: showing movies on the big screen once a week, scheduling live music performances, and organizing dances. The Genoveses also enjoy going to bingo, socializing with other residents during meals, and attending church. Rosemarie enjoys parties and Catholic Mass the most.
When they need time apart, Rosemarie goes into the bedroom to rest or play solitaire. Phil likes to sit in his easy chair and watch TV. Being patient, respecting each other’s privacy, listening to each other, and never going to bed angry are some of the things that have kept them in a loving relationship and marriage for so long. Phil says one of the best parts of marriage is companionship: a life-long dinner date, someone to talk to, and someone to share things with.
”I think so many people get divorced because it is easy,” said Phil. “Marriage is something you have to work at.”
Phil says the reality is that your partner may or may not be easy to live with. He says it’s important to know one another’s likes and dislikes, to see beyond looks and money, and to be a team. When Phil was working, Rosemarie helped take care of the kids and things around the house. When they vowed to love one another in sickness and in health, they meant it. They both have been through health challenges together, and they’ve stood by one another’s side through it all.
“The important thing is to stay in love,” said Phil.