The Fugazzis today and on their wedding day in 1935.
The Fugazzis today and on their wedding day in 1935.
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In the early years of the 20th century, a young girl named Edith was taught by nuns overseeing a Catholic children's group to pray for her vocation.

"And then I met him," Edith said of her husband, William Fugazzi. "I just knew he was the one for me. We were so in love."

The Fugazzis celebrated their 78th anniversary last weekend, which could make them the longest-married couple in New York State. (The Evangelist previously profiled Walter and Anna Mae Patrick, a couple honored by Worldwide Marriage Encounter, a Catholic marriage enrichment organization, on their 75th anniversary.)

Mr. and Mrs. Fugazzi, now 100 and 98, respectively, are parishioners of Immaculate Conception Church in Glenville. They've lived in Glenville since 1969, but they started out in New York City, where they were both asked by their families to leave school and enter the workforce at age 14.

Mrs. Fugazzi worked in a factory and then in knitting and sweater shops; Mr. Fugazzi was a shipping clerk in a printing factory and a trolley driver. They met in Manhattan when he was 20 and she, 18.

"He was walking down the street, and I happened to look at him," Mrs. Fugazzi remembered. "We started to take walks together. We'd walk around the block and we'd make it a little longer each time."

Young newlyweds
The walks turned into conversations in Washington Square Park, where, after a while, "the bench probably had the shape of our tushes."

Mr. Fugazzi proposed three years later in 1935, kneeling on the living room floor of Mrs. Fugazzi's aunt's house, where the young woman lived after her mother died.

After their marriage, Mrs. Fugazzi made artificial flowers and powder puffs at home while Mr. Fugazzi worked for the sanitation department - shoveling ashes from people's stoves and driving snow plows and street cleaners - until his retirement.

They lived in Greenwich Village until Mr. Fugazzi developed colitis and his doctor ordered them to leave the city. Their son, John, had already moved and settled in Schenectady for a job at General Electric, so the Fugazzis and their daughter, Teresa, followed suit.

They've been Immaculate Conception members ever since.

"We have a lot of faith," Mrs. Fugazzi said. "We were very close to our church. It's very important to have your religion. I know it worked real good for me."

She rattled off the close calls the seniors have experienced: Mrs. Fugazzi nearly got hit by cars several times in Manhattan, and Mr. Fugazzi has had several falls in his golden years.

"He could have killed himself" during a recent one, she said. "I thought he was dead [when I found him]. But God pulled him through."

Faith, hope and love
Teresa Fugazzi confirmed that her mother is "constantly praying the Rosary."

"I say five a day," Mrs. Fugazzi agreed. "We're very grateful for the life we had. We worked hard, but we were always kept safe."

She's relatively healthy except for some arthritis, she added: "God has been good to us for some reason."

Mrs. Fugazzi lives in an apartment in Glenville; Mr. Fugazzi moved into Kingsway Manor assisted living and then Kingsway Arms Nursing Center in Schenectady about a year and a half ago. His falls were worrisome, and his memory is deteriorating. A eucharistic minister from Immaculate Conception brings both of them communion every week.

Mrs. Fugazzi still feels the same about her husband: "He's a sweetheart."

Teresa Fugazzi said her parents' marriage is a "special relationship" and "an example for anybody.

"They're just so caring about each other," she said. A neighbor in the city "always said she thought Mom and Dad were Mary and Joseph. Mom is always so giving. Dad is a very quiet man, but always there for you."

Mrs. Fugazzi has sat by her husband's side through health crises; when they were younger, she boiled and canned fruits and vegetables and baked gluten-free bread to accommodate his colitis diet. Mr. Fugazzi cooked dinner and did laundry.

No stereotypes
"There's a conception of the Italian man being the macho man and the king of the house," Ms. Fugazzi said. But her father shattered that and even played jokes on his wife.

"He used to get under the bed and then scare me when I'd come in," Mrs. Fugazzi said with a laugh.

When they had a house, the Fugazzis took walks twice a day in their Glenville neighborhood and made pasta together. They have three grandchildren and two great-grandchildren.

Mrs. Fugazzi said their different personalities balanced each other.

"He's a very patient man," she said. "If I flared up, he would just ignore me and things would blow over. He's not a worrier, and I was. We got along real well.

"You have to have patience," Mrs. Fugazzi advised. "Once you know each other's faults, you just try to avoid those occasions."

Their daughter said the marriage's staying power boils down to "love and respect for each other. It sounds hokey, almost, [but] I think it's just pure love."