For Immediate Release Contact: Collin Nash
October 16, 2008 (516) 869 7794
Town Clerk Leslie Gross Performs 200th Marriage
Manhasset, NY—Among the close to a dozen hats she wears in her capacity as North Hempstead Town Clerk, leading couples through the life-changing step of being joined together in matrimony is without doubt her hands down favorite, Leslie Gross said.
Over the 18 months since she was sworn into office April 17, 2007, Gross has officiated an average of three marriage ceremonies a week, each one, she said, uniquely memorable.
In her role as North Hempstead’s Marriage Officer, Gross chalked up a notable milestone last week. She conducted her 200th ceremony, joining Tor-Bjorn Dahlquist and Christine Soo of Manhattan together as man and wife.
Her debut as marriage officer remains as fresh as last-week’s affair inside the gazebo at Mary Jane Davies Green across from Town Hall on Plandome Road, Gross said.
“I remember the first wedding I performed, and never imagined 199 times later still feeling as enthusiastic and excited for each couple who entrust me with the honor of presiding over their nuptials,” Gross said. “This is perhaps my favorite job that I do.”
Before her job as Town Clerk, Gross worked for two years as Executive Director of North Hempstead’s Business and Tourism Development Corp. The job entailed working closely with the Town Supervisor, Town Board, Chambers of Commerce and other community-based organizations to improve business opportunities and promote increased tourism in the town.
The Office of the Town Clerk oversees the town’s records management office, protects town archives and files vital statistics. In addition, Gross is the secretary to the town board, responsible for preparing and maintaining the meeting minutes, and issuer of a plethora of licenses, from games of chance to hunting and fishing, to taxi, peddlers, solid waste collection and of course marriage.
It turns out, however, that she did not issue the marriage license for Dahlquist and Soo.
The couple—he’s Swedish-American and a native of Longmeadow, Mass., and she Chinese-American born in Rockville Centre and raised in Manhasset—who lives on the upper west side of Manhattan, got their license in the city.
They decided to tie the knot in town, Dahlquist said, because of his wife’s roots here.
“Our goal was to be surrounded by people who are dear to us in a special place,” he said. “I definitely feel we achieved that.”
He was too busy staring into his new brides eyes, Dahlquist recalled, but while he didn’t get to take it all in, he’ll never forget the moment when a bunch of little girls watching the ceremony from the nearby bench exploded in thunderous applause when they kissed and were pronounced husband and wife.
Gross, who grew up in Great Neck and has lived in Manhasset since 1980, said her 30 year marriage to husband, Howard, with whom she raised two sons, has equipped her with a special sensibility for the job as marriage officer.
“I don’t believe in racing through it,” she said. “This is a momentous occasion, and they deserve my undivided attention. I try to make each wedding special.”
Dahlquist said Gross’ affable ways made them feel at ease at what usually is a tense though happy occasion.
“She said some very nice and genuine things at the ceremony about how long Christine and me have known one another and having only our families and close friends present. She even surprised us and our guests by having a cake back in her office for us after the ceremony was over.”
Gross may be a Jack of many trades, but she certainly has impressed him in the way she masters her marriage officer role, the new groom said.
So much so, that “we promised to come back after our anniversary to reconnect and tell her how our first year together went.”
(L to R) Town Clerk Leslie Gross, Bride Christine Soo and Groom Tor-Bjorn Dahlquist stand in the Gazebo at Mary Jane Davies Park on their Wedding Day.