Shortly after Julia LeFevre entered Mercy High School in 1962, she went to her first CYO dance at St. Dominic in Hamilton. It was a Halloween costume party and Julia went as a “little girl,” complete with a borrowed teddy bear.
That’s when Larry Ventura first saw her. Not knowing a better way to introduce himself, he took the teddy bear and ran off. She followed, and they spent the rest of the night dancing and talking together.
“We were crazy, crazy kids,” he said. “We had such a good time there.”
“We did have a lot of fun,” Julia Ventura said. “Larry was in charge of buying the records (for CYO). My dad was kind of strict, I had to be home right afterwards.”
Julia was three years younger, but that didn’t matter. Smitten, Larry confided to a friend on Christmas Eve, when Julia and her family arrived for Mass, that he planned to marry her.
By her senior year, they were an exclusive couple, as Larry and his Buick Skylark convertible would wait in front of Mercy High School for Julia.
“I was wearing his school ring,” Julia said. “It was big and heavy, but I felt special wearing his ring.”
Some dates concluded at the broadcast station where Julia’s dad, Bill LeFevre, a media personality best known for his years with WBFF-TV, hosted the late-night movie.
After high school, Julia worked for the Social Security Administration and talk turned to marriage. One of their friends, who was a jeweler, found a diamond and set it in a ring. In September 1968, Larry proposed.
“I was so excited,” Julia said. “We went to get the ring and came home to show my parents, but they were out. We went to his parents, and they were out. We were running around, so we finally decided to get something to eat.”
They chose May 17, 1969, for their wedding – Preakness Day. Larry, who enjoyed horse racing, thought it would be a good day for a wedding, but not everyone agreed.
“Friends of Larry said, ‘We’re going to the Preakness,’ instead,” Julia said. “But they didn’t. They all came to the wedding, every one of them.”
Larry worked for Baltimore Stationery Company, where he rose to vice president of sales, and Julia moved to the Health Care Finance Administration. They lived in Baltimore and then in Shrewsbury, Pa. They settled in Timonium in 1985. They worship at St. Joseph Parish in Cockeysville, where they are active in several ministry programs.
Their extended family includes 19 nieces and nephews.
“We’ve been godparents to seven of them,” Julia said.
The coronavirus pandemic meant not worshipping in person for a long stretch, but they are back to attending weekday Mass.
“It was the strangest thing, as soon as I got into church, I started crying,” Julia said. “The feeling just overwhelms me. For Easter, we decided we wanted to go. It turned out really nice, it was beautiful.”
They will celebrate 52 years of marriage this month, two days after this year’s Preakness. The secrets to a happy marriage, both agreed, are putting your spouse first and taking the other person’s feelings into consideration in everything you do.
“Think about how the other person will react,” Julia advised. “Put them first. Try to understand what their feelings might be. That way when you have disagreements, you can work through it together. You definitely need to talk with each other.”
“We get along well because both of us take care of each other,” Larry said.
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