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In Sickness, In Health, During A Pandemic

Dominic Mariani and his buddy teased this girl Camille who came into the Boston Store for lunch.

On a blind date, Frank Kiersznowski shut Elaine Layda’s hand in the car door.

Still, something about these men convinced both women to say yes, first to a second date, and then to marriage.

Dominic and Camille Mariani, both from East Utica, married May 17, 1975. Frank and Elaine Kiersznowski married Oct. 6, 1973.

Through the years both couples weathered the good and the bad, but the last two years have proven challenging. Both Dominic and Elaine are residents on the Clinton LutheranCare campus of Community Wellness Partners; their spouses have had to follow state regulations regarding visiting since the pandemic hit March 13, 2020.

“You find a way,’’ Camille said. When she could not enter the building for a year while it was in lockdown, she would take a camp chair, sit outside Dominic’s window and the two would talk on cell phones.

“It was important that she know I was thinking about her,’’ Frank said. When he couldn’t come into the building, staff members would take a phone to Elaine so he could tell her he loved her.

For what they’ve endured, and yet stand as a solid example that love can overcome, the Times has chosen Dominic and Camille Mariani, and Frank and Elaine Kiersznowski as our 2022 Valentines Couples of the Year.

The Times interviewed all four people last week, receiving permission to visit the LutheranCare facility while following the required facemasking and distancing protocols in place. Here are their stories.

Frank Kiersznowski grew up in Whitesboro and Elaine Layda in Sauquoit. Someone he worked with at Special Metals told him she had a friend he might like.

“I accidentally closed the car door on her hand,’’ he said. “But it was a convertible so it wasn’t a big door.’’

He liked her right from the beginning and despite the door incident, Elaine agreed to see him again. After they were married, they lived in Utica for a few years then relocated to Sauquoit…


The full story is in this week's edition of the newspaper. 

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