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Published: Friday, 12/5/2008

WWII couple reunited after 65 years apart

BY ANGIE SCHMITT
BLADE STAFF WRITER

They met 65 years ago at an Army-Navy dance in Washington during the tumult of a world war.

She was a 22-year-old native Toledoan in the WAVES, which stood for Women Accepted for Volunteer Emergency Service.

He was a 24-year-old Californian, an Army paratrooper, bound for the Italian front in a few days.

The attraction was instant.

It was love at first sight, said Antoinette Marmar of West Toledo. I was Italian and he was Italian and that s what drew us together.

She added, He was really so handsome in his uniform.

Their love story was like many others during World War II: beginning with a whirlwind romance, ending too soon when fate intervened.

Antoinette Marmar, 86, shows a photo of herself when she was in the WAVES and had a whirlwind romance with Marino  Mike  Narducci after they met at a dance in Washington.
Antoinette Marmar, 86, shows a photo of herself when she was in the WAVES and had a whirlwind romance with Marino Mike Narducci after they met at a dance in Washington.
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We only got to see each other a few days before he was shipped overseas, she said.

But a serendipitous twist of fate reunited Mrs. Marmar, 86, with her long-lost love, Marino Narducci, 88, last month.

The two both widowed met again in Las Vegas after 65 years apart.

It was a long and roundabout road that led to their reunion.

The pair had corresponded for months, while he was fighting overseas.

Then, her letters started being returned; Marino or Mike, as she called him was missing in action.

After some time and deliberation, she assumed he was dead.

I just decided, I have to go on with my life, Mrs. Marmar said.

She became engaged to another man.

A week before the wedding, she got a phone call.

Hi, Toni. This is Mike, a familiar voice said.

He had been captured in southern France and held as a prisoner of war for 13 months. Then, he had spent five months at a veteran s hospital in Italy.

I had her picture with me, Mr. Narducci remembered.

I always said, I want to get through this and see her again.

At that point, however, it was too late for Antoinette.

I was in shock, she said. I thought he had died.

She added: I had to tell him I was going to be married.

Married she was. She and Joe Poskonka raised four sons and one daughter in West Toledo. After Mr. Poskonka died of lung cancer in 1967, she was married a second time.

But she never forgot the handsome GI with dark eyes. After she was widowed for the first time, she considered looking him up when she was in California in 1967 for her son s wedding.

But she decided against it, assuming he was happily married and she was right.

Mr. Narducci and his wife, Jenny, were married 50 years before her passing several years ago.

That might have been the end of their story.

But last summer Mrs. Marmar related the tale of her first love to her granddaughter Kelly Poskonka.

The young woman asked if her grandmother would mind if she did a little online investigating of this Marino.

It didn t take Miss Poskonka long to find Mr. Narducci s son, Jimmy, on a listing for the family s restaurant. At 88, Mr. Narducci still owns and operates J&M Cafe in Oak View, Calif.

He could still remember Mrs. Marmar s wartime address.

They arranged for Mr. Narducci to call her on her 85th birthday.

When the phone rang early that morning, Mrs. Marmar was caught off-guard. It was that familiar voice, once again.

Happy birthday, he said.

I said, Who is this?, she said. He said, This is Mike Narducci.

Her daughter, Rosemary Galdys, 58, arrived at her mother s house a few hours later.

She s just grinning from ear to ear, Mrs. Galdys said.

After that, it was all arranged.

Mrs. Marmar; her daughter, Mrs. Galdys; and granddaughter, Miss Poskonka, would fly to Las Vegas to meet Mr. Narducci.

The pair found they still had plenty to talk about, Mrs. Marmar said.

They spent every day together, Mrs. Galdys said. They were always hand-in-hand.

Mr. Narducci had always wanted to thank his wartime girlfriend for helping him through those dark days at prison camp.

She still had the cameo he sent from Italy, mounted on a necklace.

The pair plan to remain close friends, although neither wants to leave their families, more than 2,000 miles apart.

But Mrs. Galdys says she ll fly with her mother anywhere Mr. Narducci wants to meet.

In all the pictures [from Las Vegas], she s smiling in every one, she said. He just makes her very happy.

At the very least, it s been a flattering and exciting experience for Mrs. Marmar to be remembered after so many decades.

For a lady 86 years old to have something like this happen, she said, it s amazing.

Contact Angie Schmitt at: aschmitt@theblade.com or 419-724-6104.



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