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Thursday, Mar 30, 2017
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Tampa couples share first kiss stories for Valentine's Day

A kiss.

Is there anything more romantic?

We've seen it scorch the big screen in Burt Lancaster and Deborah Kerr's passionate sea-soaked lip-lock on the beach in “From Here to Eternity.”

We've heard it praised in song lyrics, such as Faith Hill's “This kiss, this kiss, unstoppable.”

And what couple hasn't tried to imitate the spaghetti dinner smooch between the animated Lady and the Tramp?

Kisses, especially first ones, are memorable. Most couples remember the time and place they first locked lips with their beloved.

In honor of Valentine's Day, the holiday of love, we asked some local couples to share the details of their first smooch, and they graciously agreed to kiss and tell.

Happy Valentine's Day.

LOVIE AND MARYANNE SMITH, Buccaneers head coach and MaryAnne Smith, married 33 years

Lovie and MaryAnne were both students at Tulsa University when they met on a blind date. A mutual friend set up the pair, unbeknown to MaryAnne, who thought she was going to meet some friends.

Lovie showed up, they hung out and immediately “hit it off,” the Tampa Bay Buccaneers head coach says.

The next day, Lovie confided in a friend, “MaryAnne is the woman (I will) marry.”

On Friday, Sept. 14, 1979 the pair met at the student union at Tulsa University. There, in between football meetings, (he played there from 1976-79), Lovie showed MaryAnne some love and the two shared their first kiss. They were engaged a month later and married in 1980 while they were still in school. They've been married 33 years.


JULIE AND STEVE WEINTRAUB, Owners, Gold & Diamond Source, married eight years

For nearly a decade, Steve and Julie were BFF's.

“We each would call (the other) during any difficult, good or significant life event,” says Julie, who appears in commercials with her husband for their Gold & Diamond Source.

But in 2004, as they sat together on the Gulf with the majestic Don CeSar in the background, their friendship took an unexpected turn.

“It was a moment of overwhelming passion, like the universe had taken over,” said Julie of their first kiss. “We froze in disbelief that our friendship crossed a line we both knew would either be the end of Steve and Julie or the beginning of us.”

That impromptu kiss led to their marriage in May of 2006, on the steps of the Don CeSar, where the couple shared their first smooch. They've been married eight years.

Adds Julie, “The only word I can think of that could come close to even describing that intense, life-changing passionate moment is a word we use to describe diamonds: Fire.”


RICHARD AND MELANIE GONZMART, The Columbia Restaurant Group, married 43 years

Richard was a sophomore at Jesuit High School, Melanie a freshman at Sacred Heart, when they met at a dance in 1968.

“I was so shy, but I asked her to dance,” recalls Richard, head of the Columbia Restaurant Group. “We danced twice, but we didn't talk.”

A few days later, Richard, who admits he was smitten, met Melanie at the Columbia Restaurant.

“I put on a three-piece suit and sat at table 93 in the patio,” he says. “I remember being so nervous. But I always knew I loved her.”

Years later, the pair puckered up for the first time in his car.

“We were driving back from somewhere, and he leaned over and he kissed me,” Melanie remembers. “I was very shocked, but I already loved him, and I'm still madly in love with him today.”

Richard asked Melanie to marry him 43 years ago at table 93 at the Columbia Restaurant.

“Every day is Valentine's day at our house,” he adds.


PASTOR KENNETH AND ALTHEA STEWART, pastor of Tabernacle of Hope Church, director at Integrated Security Consultants

Kenneth and Althea Stewart's first date was nothing short of a disaster.

“I was three hours late, the car broke down, I had to get it towed, and after all that we didn't like each other,” says Kenneth of their first date in 1989, when he drove from Ocala to Tampa to meet Althea at the urging of their pastors.

Six months later, when the pair saw each other again, it was love at second sight for Kenneth. But not for Althea.

Hoping to sway her feelings, Kenneth courted Althea, taking her for long walks and lunches at Lettuce Lake Park. One afternoon on the boardwalk, a year after their initial meeting, he kissed her. And she let him.

“I was so surprised,” says Kenneth, pastor of the Tabernacle of Hope Church.

The two were married in August 31, 1991, two years to the day of their disastrous first date.

“It didn't get off to a great start,” Kenneth says. “But it sure ended up that way.”


MICHELLE AND ROBERT FAEDO, chefs/owners of Michelle Faedo's On the Go food truck, married 20 years

Robert and Michelle, chefs and owners of Michelle Faedo's On The Go food truck, have known each other most of their lives but began dating in 1994.

On their second date, Robert took Michelle for a late-night dinner at a local Village Inn Restaurant. As they left the restaurant, Robert made his move.

“We walked out the front door , and Robert asks, 'Where's my truck?,' Michelle recalls. “I'm thinking, is he blind or what? I point to the truck and he grabs my hand, pulls me to him and plants one on me. Wow!”

Onlookers cheered. On the ride home, the pair shared a smooch at every stop sign and red light.

“It's something I will never forget,” Michelle says. “ 'Til this day, each time we pass the Village Inn, we both smile.”

The couple shared their first kiss as husband and wife in August, 1994.


JORGE “JT” AND ANA MARIA TAPIAS, professional fitness life coach and administrator, married seven months

Jose and Ana Maria grew up two blocks from each other in their native Medellin, Colombia, but met November 2012 at a Tony Robbins seminar in Orlando.

“(Robbins) was talking about connecting to your passion and finding the right person,” says Jorge, a professional fitness life coach. “I look over and there was this stunning young woman.”

The two chatted during a break and exchanged telephone numbers.

They dated four months before Jorge popped the question on May 28, 2013, on the beach in front of the Don CeSar — the same spot they shared their first kiss.

“We're both Christians,” says Jorge, who wed Ana Maria last June. “We decided to honor God and not kiss until we were engaged. I think too many couples jump into relationships and get physical before they really get to know each other. We waited and it truly gave us the opportunity to see if we really liked each other first without the physicality. And it was really worth it.”

Want to share the story of your first kiss? Tweet them to us with the hashtag #TBOfirstkiss or send your story by email to cspata@tbo.com.