45 years in the waiting: The real life love story of two Hutchinson School graduates


In 1974, two Hutchinson School second graders began a friendship that would change their lives forever, but they would only realize it 45 years later. 

John McClaren and Maria Petti Rozycki were friends throughout elementary school, but lost touch after McClaren moved away at the age of 13.

“I, to be honest, had thought about her over the years, but since I moved in 1980, I lost touch with most people and forgot names. Unfortunately hers was a name I couldn’t remember,” wrote McClaren in an email interview. “But on June 13, 2018, I got a (Facebook) request from Maria Petti Rozycki. Luckily she added the Petti, ’cause I remembered her instantly.”

After responding to the message from Rozycki, the two stayed up well past McClaren’s already-late working hours chatting with one another (McClaren worked until 11 p.m.). Coincidentally, McClaren had a vacation planned for Shrub Oak in August—which provided just the opportunity for a reunion with Rozycki. She picked him up from the airport, and they spent the day together. Although Rozycki had to work the next two days, instead of cutting their reunion short, she invited McClaren to vacation in Lake George.

What had happened to the pretty girl I walked down the aisle with at Hutchinson?”

— John McClaren

“The three days in Lake George were the best three days I have had in almost 30 years, and I knew from that first night that she would be the woman I would spend the rest of my life with,” said McClaren.

For McClaren, the funniest moment from their relationship as children was at their Hutchinson graduation in 1978. “A mutual friend, Liz Roche, had approached me during rehearsals to tell me that Maria was floating on the clouds, since she and I were matched up to walk down the aisle together for graduation. I, being young and stupid, ran away thinking, ‘these girls are trying to set me up to look like a fool,'” said McClaren. “Honestly, though, that was the moment that I always thought of over the years; what had happened to the pretty girl I walked down the aisle with at Hutchinson, but couldn’t remember the name of?”

John McClaren was Maria Petti Rozycki’s first crush, and now, both at the age of 51, the two are happily in a relationship and figuring out their living situation. Rozycki works in Scarsdale as a cosmetologist, and McClaren lives in Myrtle Beach employed by the Department of Homeland Security in the Travel Security Administration. They plan to move to Myrtle Beach so their lives can become, as McClaren puts it, “sunshine and rainbows.”

McClaren first described finding Rozycki again in a letter to the editor to the Pelham Examiner.