Anthony and Teresa Stellabotte attributed their longevity in life and marriage to patience, prayer and faith.
The parishioners of St. Ann’s on Staten Island have been married 72 years, making the duo the longest-married couple in the archdiocese.
“He’s a very pleasant man,” Teresa said of her husband. “Being in the church is very important to us, and the parishioners are a family. There were hardships at times and you have to have faith in one another to get through them. We were always teaching our children to love one another and to help one another.”
The Stellabottes are being recognized following the annual longest-married couple search conducted by archdiocesan Family Life/Respect Life Office. It is held in conjunction with World Marriage Day, which is observed on the second Sunday of February, the one closest to St. Valentine’s feast day on Feb. 14.
“Patience,” said Anthony in describing the key to his relationship with Teresa. “We get along very well. She’s a good wife. What can I say? We had three kids and she took care of them well. They’re all doing well.”
Anthony, 96, and Teresa, 90, live with their daughter Linda, the second of their three children. Anthony, 71, is a retired NYPD officer and Tommy, 58, is a retired HVAC operating engineer. Linda, 60, is employed by real estate firm Cushman & Wakefield. The Stellabottes also have three grandchildren—Anthony and Debby Stellabotte, and Gina Harkins—and one great-grandchild, Kayla Stellabotte.
“They’re wonderful people,” Linda said. “All through our lives, they were guiding us in the right direction. They have very good values, and I really followed their values by being active in the church.”
Anthony and Teresa were raised in Brooklyn’s Park Slope section by parents who were Italian immigrants. Anthony left high school at 16 to work and help his parents during the Depression.
The Stellabottes, who were both working at Pilgrim Laundry in Brooklyn, were officially introduced at a barn dance. Teresa says that she was not a good dancer but Anthony was a talented dancer. Anthony and Teresa started dating—attending Mass together, and going to the movies and out for pizza, which cost a quarter in those days, according to Teresa. The two were married on Jan. 21, 1945 at Holy Name Church in Brooklyn.
“With the times back then, we used to put away money each week, and at the end of the year, we used to go into the city,” Teresa said.
Anthony became a mail carrier for the U.S. Post Office, and Teresa worked in the rectory as a cook and supervisor at Our Lady of Refuge parish in Brooklyn.
Teresa attends daily Mass as often as she can and is active at St. Ann’s, making rosaries each Thursday to be sent to parishes in places like India and the Philippines, and crocheting lap blankets and prayer shawls on Fridays. She also is a member of the parish’s Rosary Society.
Anthony, who said he still smokes a cigar each day, has difficulty getting to Mass, but faithfully watches daily the recitation of the Rosary and the morning Mass on television. Teresa will join him if she is not attending Mass that day.
Anthony, who receives Communion regularly at home from a Eucharistic minister, said the key to his long, healthy life is eating the hot peppers he cleans and marinates.
“If I can make them, I’ll eat them every day. They’re good for you,” he said. “I was just making a batch.”
Anthony is known for preparing and bringing his hot peppers to special occasions like his great-granddaughters 16th birthday party on Feb. 4. Kayla turned 16 on Jan. 25; four days after Anthony and Teresa celebrated their 72nd wedding anniversary.
“Our story is faith, love, help another and always give if you’re able to do it,” Teresa said.
LIST OF THE LONGEST-MARRIED COUPLES IN THE ARCHDIOCESE
Anthony and Teresa Stellabotte,
72 years, St. Ann, Staten Island
Robert and Mary Licurse,
71 years, St. Columba,
Gennaro and Jennie Sepe,
69 years, St. Eugene, Yonkers
69 years, Our Lady of Assumption, Bronx
Philip and Margaret Centrone,
69 years, Holy Rosary, Bronx
Joseph and Theresa Siclare,
69 years, Corpus Christi, Port Chester
Conrado and Victoria Torres,
68 years, St. Ann, Yonkers
Dino and Idalia Stefani,
68 years, St. Joseph, Manhattan
George and Eleanore Mitesser,
67 years, St. Elizabeth Ann Seton,
Deacon John and Joan Maloney,
67 years, St. Anthony, Nanuet
Charles and Mae Festa,
67 years, St. Teresa/St. Nicolas Chapel,
Vincent and Mary Saracco,
66 years, St. Augustine, New City
Lawrence and Anna Holten,
66 years, Immaculate Heart of Mary, Scarsdale
John and Ruth Moench,
66 years, Sacred Heart, Suffern
Thomas A. Downes Jr. and
Marianne V. Downes,
66 years, St. Augustine, New City
Thomas and Anita Liguori,
66 years, St. Mary, Wappingers Falls
Deacon Eusebio and
65 years, Immaculate Conception,