A Bench In East Quogue Commemorates A 70-Year Love Story

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At the end of Bay Avenue in East Quogue, near a sleepy marina in the Shinnecock Bay, a love story began.It was there, in 1940, that Shirley Lutz, then Shirley Reeve, first set eyes on Frank Lutz, a city slicker who came out from Richmond Hill, Queens, to work on his cousin’s boat.

She didn’t like him at first, Carla Carolan explained, recalling the story of her parents’ first encounter. But it didn’t take long before he swept her off her feet.

Two years later, Mr. Lutz, then about 21 years old, came home on leave from the U.S. Navy and asked Ms. Reeve to marry him. Just three days later, they wed, with the bride wearing a navy blue velvet dress with white lace, because she lacked the time and money to buy a white gown.

The couple eventually settled in East Quogue, Mrs. Lutz’s hometown, where they raised two daughters, Carla Carolan and Jackie Lutz Aldrich. They lived most of their lives on Vail Avenue, both heavily involved in their community.

They died last year four months apart, after 70 years of marriage. Mrs. Lutz was 89 years old, and Mr. Lutz was 91.

To commemorate their love, their daughters first suggested placing a bench on the East Quogue green. Officials from the Southampton Town Parks and Recreation Department explained that there wasn’t enough space there—but they suggested a more suitable location: at the end of Bay Avenue, overlooking the marina, the place where the couple’s love began.

Nailed to the bench, which the sisters purchased earlier this year, is a plaque that reads: “Frank and Shirley Lutz in love for 70 years making memories by the bay.”

“I just think that they would be thrilled,” Ms. Carolan said this week, adding that she hopes community members and visitors will see the plaque on the bench while taking in the surrounding scenery. “I hope they are able to enjoy it and think, ‘My God, people can really stay married that long!’”

Mr. Lutz served as a hard hat diver in the U.S. Navy during World War II, and later worked as a butcher at the Bohack supermarket on Main Street in Westhampton Beach, where Rite Aid is now. He also served in the East Quogue Fire Department for 65 years, holding nearly every rank, including chief.

Mrs. Lutz was a descendant of one of East Quogue’s founding families. She graduated from Westhampton Beach High School and worked at the RCA plant in Riverhead during World War II, and later at the East Quogue Post Office. She was a member of the East Quogue Fire Department’s Ladies Auxiliary, the Suffolk County Historical Society, the East Quogue Historical Society and the board of East Quogue United Methodist Church.

Both loved the water immensely, their daughters said.

“They really enjoyed their lives there,” Ms. Aldrich said of East Quogue.

Ms. Carolan remembered her parents as being happily married, with a love that others admired. “If they fought, we didn’t know they fought,” she said. “Anything worthwhile is worth working for.”

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