A York Love Story for Valentine’s Day

Love stories…we sometimes scoff at the idea these days, but two York College graduates’ story is worth sharing. However, it’s not just their story. It is also the story of a respected chorus professor, the late David Labovitz, whose class trips led to this lasting romance.

Picture it: two college students on a trip to what’s been called the most romantic city in the world, Paris! Cupid’s arrow was poised. It landed effortlessly on Joseph Fantozzi and Florence Verrico, who had struck up a quick friendship when they met at Professor Labovitz’s home. Fantozzi recently shared their story with York College. We’re sharing it in Fantozzi's own words below.

“When Labovitz said, ’You all know each other, right?’" my then-future wife pointed at me and said, ‘No, who's that?!" Our story continued to unfold as we sat next to each other on the plane to France, ultimately having our first date on the hill of Montmartre on Bastille Eve (July 13) where I presented her with a single long-stemmed rose. We returned to Paris with Prof. Labovitz in the summer of 1979, seasoned Parisians by then (or so we thought). We once again sang at Notre Dame and other places. Flo and I visited all the old haunts, enjoyed the croissants, cheese and of course the wine.

Those two summers were life-changing for us both. David and his wife, Esther, attended our wedding in 1982 and he always proudly took credit for our marriage. We still see some of the friends from those trips, 43 years later. And to this day, each year on that date I continue the tradition of the rose.” Still happily married these 38 years hence, Fantozzi and Verrico are also the proud parents of two adult children.”

Fantozzi added that Labovitz’ motley crew of students were, to put it simply, not world travelers.

Some of us thought a trip to Brooklyn was an adventure,” said Fantozzi. “He took us to Europe. We proudly displayed the name of York College when we sang at places like Notre Dame de Paris and the Madeleine de Vezelay. When some of us couldn’t afford to pay for piano lessons, [David] continued to teach us anyway. Some of us had never been to Manhattan; he welcomed us into his Upper West Side home. And when he discovered raw talent, he devoted his considerable energies to making sure the student had the right training and opportunities. Most importantly, he inspired us to become all that we could. Through his mentoring, we discovered that the human spirit is capable of great things, and we carry his life lessons with us, no matter the endeavor.”