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An Unusual Friendship, Forged Over Thanksgiving

Larry Rolf (left) and Denny Daniels are best friends who were both married to the same woman — though at different times. After she died, the two helped each other cope.
Larry Rolf (left) and Denny Daniels are best friends who were both married to the same woman — though at different times. After she died, the two helped each other cope.

Larry Rolf and Denny Daniels know their relationship is an unlikely one. They're best friends, and they were both married to the same woman — her name was Sharon — though not at the same time.

They met on Thanksgiving, in 1990, just outside of Minneapolis. Denny and Sharon were dating. Larry and Sharon had broken up, and Larry had re-married 13 years prior.

"I asked [Sharon] what she wanted to do for Thanksgiving," Denny told Larry at StoryCorps. "She said, 'Well, let's go over to Larry's.' I said, 'Wait a minute, you want to go over to your ex-husband's for Thanksgiving?' "

Larry said he had no problem with the idea of his ex-wife bringing a boyfriend with her. They'd been divorced for more than a decade, after all.

"You want to bring someone along, it's just another cup you add to the soup," Larry said.

But Denny wasn't thrilled with the idea. He said he came to a compromise with Sharon: They'd go for an hour and then leave.

"But we kind of hit it off," he told Larry. The two are both runners, and it didn't take long before Larry was encouraging Denny to join his running club.

"Yeah, by 10 o'clock I thought, was this guy going to move in or what?" Larry recalled.

Larry said he was happy when Sharon and Denny got married. He said he was "a complete horse's ass" when he and Sharon were together, drinking and chasing women.

"She took care of the kids when I was out in bars," Larry said. "And how she made it — sometimes it just amazes me."

Denny and Sharon were married for some 17 years, until she died of lung cancer in 2009.

"Her last years with you, I think, were probably the happiest in her life," Larry told Denny. "And a couple of weeks before she died, I got to tell her how sorry I was and she forgave me."

"I do not know without you if I could have gotten through it," Denny told his friend. "Every day you would call me, make sure that I was OK. You still do.

"When you lose someone that you love, it creates a hole in your soul that is hard to fill and you helped fill that. You are more like a brother than a friend. And I appreciate that so very much."

Audio produced forMorning Editionby Katie Simon with Jasmyn Belcher.

StoryCorps Bonus: 'Sundays At Rocco's'

In this animated video, Nicholas Petron remembers his grandfather, Rocco Galasso, who moved to New York City from Italy. For 18 years, Rocco served as owner and superintendent of an apartment building where much of his family resided — until the day they were given notice that their building faced demolition to make way for new apartments. As Nick remembers, that's when everything changed.

Copyright 2021 NPR. To see more, visit

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