Bayside couple set to wed after childhood friendship

By Cynthia Koons

The last time she walked down the aisle of St. Luke’s Roman Catholic Church in Whitestone, Anjette LaRocca would not even stand with her partner, Brian Lewis, for pictures.

Instead, the young girl was trying to pose with another first communion partner — one she had a crush on.

Twenty years went by and LaRocca’s and Lewis’ longtime friendship morphed. After seeing each other through new loves and lost loves, the two grade-school friends found love in one another.

“I could just tell the way they got along so well,” said Carolyn Barbato, LaRocca’s mother. “The way he looked at her and she looked at him. It seems like they were made for each other.”

The couple, who lives in Bayside, is preparing to get married within the next few weeks, at the very same church they said their first communion vows together more than 20 years ago.

LaRocca’s and Lewis’ friendship took a two-year hiatus during their 20s, when LaRocca, 30, was dating someone outside of their circle of friends.

“That relationship went sour, and toward the end of it I bumped into Brian and I guess the old feelings started coming back,” she said. “Within three weeks he moved in with me and that was it.”

Lewis, 31, is a firefighter in Astoria. Barbato, a Whitestone resident, said he is an Elvis fanatic who also loves karaoke.

“At the shower, we had a game called ‘How well do you know the bride and groom?’” Barbato said. “Both families were cheating. One of the questions was ‘how long did they know each other?’”

The two went to St. Luke’s grammar school in Whitestone where they met in 1980.

It was there that by height-order Lewis and LaRocca were paired together for their first communion.

“When you’re 7 years old … it’s still very separate. Girls hang out with girls; boys hang out with boys,” she said. “I had a crush on this little blonde-haired boy. In all the pictures I was running up to be next to the boy ahead of me.”

On March 12, LaRocca will not have quite as many men vying for her attention in the aisle of St. Luke’s.

“I knew it was going to happen sooner or later. It was going to be a matter of time,” Barbato said.

LaRocca said the union has changed her and Lewis.

“He’s definitely taught me not to take life so seriously,” she said. “We complement each other in the fact that I’m a little bit more practical and he’s very, very, very easy going about everything.”

Now that he is in a serious, committed relationship, she said he treats life differently as well.

“He’s definitely more family-oriented now. He’s definitely more responsible,” she said. “He’s very comfortable being in a committed relationship now that it’s the right relationship.”

Reach reporter Cynthia Koons at news@timesledger.com or call 718-229-0300, Ext. 141.

More from Around New York