You had me at ‘hello’
From left to right: James and Jessica Shreeve, Jean “Daisy” Falcon and Walton Shreeve in Bellport.

Adv/Smith

You had me at ‘hello’

Story By: TARA SMITH
2/9/2017


In Shakespeare’s “A Midsummer Night’s Dream,” Lysander says, “The course of true love never did run smooth.” It’s a frustrating truth to swallow, but can lead to happily ever after.

In this case, one happenstance encounter led to two relationships. The story really begins with Jean “Daisy” Falcon, 93, and Walton Shreeve, 95, 16 years ago.

“Both of our spouses died within a short time of each other,” Shreeve explained. “We knew each other in Bellport, slightly,” Falcon said.

After their spouses passed, Walton planned to visit friends in Stockbridge, Mass. Those friends happened to know Daisy and suggested the pair drive up together. 

The drive up was nothing special, but Walton impressed Daisy one evening before a Boston Symphony Concert at the Tanglewood. “Walton said, ‘you look very nice,’” Daisy explained. “That got me right away.”

It was more than just her taste in fashion. “What attracted me to [Daisy] was the fact that she wanted to pay for her lunch on the way back,” Walton said laughing. “It was a key trip,” he said, in establishing their relationship. Walton noted that Daisy’s warmth and ability to make anyone feel comfortable was what hooked him.

Walton’s affection and love of travel won Daisy’s heart. “He took me to places that I never thought in my wildest dreams I’d get to,” she said. “I had never even been west of Buffalo until I met him,” she added, referencing trips to Italy, Istanbul and Santa Fe.

By summer’s end, they were inseparable.

They invited their children to spend Labor Day in Bellport, and swear their intentions were not to be matchmakers. “We thought it’d be nice if [James and Jessica] met, since they were both single,” Walton said. Daisy saw sparks fly. “I looked out the window early one morning and saw them walking down the driveway and I knew where they were going — Starbucks. So I knew something was going on,” she recalled.

That’s the condensed version, according to James, 65, and Jessica Shreeve (formerly Falcon), 60. “Our families knew of each other while we were growing up,” Jessica recalled. “I knew Jamie’s name, but I hadn’t seen him since I was 12.”

James was amidst a divorce when Walton invited him for dinner at Daisy’s, who was sure to mention that Jessica was in town. “A bell went off. Jessica Falcon. I knew the name and I could then picture this little twerp on the beach,” James quipped. “Our main connection was the Old Inlet Club. They were beach people, we were beach people.”

That weekend was pivotal for Jessica, but not so much for James. “At that point, I was 47 and had never been married, so I was coming from a very different place,” Jessica said. “Which is why I like to say that people should always be hopeful. Love could be right around the corner.” 

“I always tell this story — and he’s going to roll his eyes — but I saw him and knew I was going to marry him,” she said, as James blushed. “I had never felt that way before in my life, ever. He had this big smile, so for me it was instantaneous, but it was not for him.”

“I can’t deny that I found her attractive, but I wasn’t ready for another relationship,” James recalled. They had a great conversation at Starbucks, but didn’t see each other again until Christmas. James knew he had to act quickly. “Both of my brothers were flirting with her. I was like, hello?! Back off, dudes,” he said laughing.

Still, they were worlds apart. James was living in Washington, D.C. working as a freelance writer and Jessica lived in New Jersey, commuting to New York for her television job. “We had a lot of phone calls,” James said, emphasizing “a lot.”

Those phone calls were imperative. “I had this overwhelming sensation that this person was the one I was going to end up with,” Jessica said, reflecting on those days. “I had no idea when or how. It didn’t matter if it took a year, it just felt inevitable.”

Early on, James learned that with Jessica, it wouldn’t be casual. “If you’re in, you’re in,” he said. One of those phone calls stands out. “Jessica said, ‘I want to get to a point in a relationship where you can say, ‘have we got milk? and skip over the other stuff,’” James explained. “I wanted to get to the mundane part — I wasn’t interested in small talk,” Jessica added.

They were together by the next Labor Day, but moving cautiously ahead. He proposed to her five months later, in February 2003. By Labor Day 2003, they were wed.

“And just to be absolutely clear, they are not married,” Jessica joked, pointing to Daisy and Walton. “They’re living in sin,” James added. “But it’s easier that way,” Daisy explained. They now live in Greenport in a retirement community. But they’re thankful to have their children only an hour away. “It’s nice that they’re here,” Daisy said.

Soon, James will be in Bellport on a more permanent basis. For 10 of the 13 years they have been married, he’s had to commute to D.C. for work after becoming science editor at National Geographic in 2006.

“[Bellport] is a place that both of us have a very strong connection to. It’s something we had in common and didn’t want to lose,” Jessica explained. “I’ve spent every summer of my life out here.” Even Daisy spent summers in Bellport as a girl. “I love this town — I was brought up on the bay,” Daisy said.

James and Jessica have been back for five years, plenty of time to reconnect with friends, make new ones and settle in — sort of. James still commutes to D.C., but explained that would soon end.

“I’m very much looking forward to having my husband full-time,” Jessica said.

The long weekends spent together are filled with golf, the beach, cooking and card games. “I learned to play golf because James plays. I learned very quickly that if I didn’t learn how to play, I would never see him on weekends,” Jessica joked.

They even golf with Walton, who still has a mean backswing at 95 years old. “He’s still swinging,” Daisy said. “And you should see him dance.”

One unexpected joy has been the time spent altogether. “The four of us spend a lot of time together; it’s convivial and friendly,” Jessica explained. “And when you think about it,” James added, “There’s never any conflict over whose parents you’re going to spend Christmas at.”