A young Southold couple’s love story ended in tragedy this week.
A few days ago, Joe and Tara Tandy had the world on a string. Working in careers they loved, they shared a passion for life, for each other and for service to others.
It all came to an abrupt end a week ago when Joe’s heart suddenly stopped beating. Doctors at Stony Brook University Hospital were unable to determine why the physically fit, 29-year-old man went into cardiac arrest, his brother Mike said. They suspected a virus of some kind, but never came to a definite conclusion. He spent his last few days surrounded by his family, who kept vigil at his bedside. They said their last goodbyes on Tuesday, Feb. 23.
Joe and Tara, who both attended Mattituck High School, graduating one year apart, got to know each other in 2007 at Legends Restaurant, where Tara was working at the time. They had their first date in 2008, after Joe enlisted in the Air Force, and have been together ever since, even deploying together to Afghanistan in 2012.
Air Force reservists, Joe worked full-time at the air base in Westhampton, where he was an engine mechanic on HC-130 and HH-60 Pavehawk helicopters. Tara is a Southold Town police officer. She graduated from the police academy in July, her brother Steve Buczak said.
Joe and Tara had a storybook wedding at Brecknock Hall, courtesy of Peconic Landing in Greenport. They were selected in 2013 for the Peconic Landing Veteran’s Day Wedding Giveback. A panel of resident veterans at Peconic Landing each year chooses a deserving military couple for a free wedding at Brecknock Hall. They were wed on Nov. 10, 2013.
He rose to the rank of technical sergeant in the Air Force and served three overseas deployments, once in Afghanistan and twice in Africa.
When he was not working on aircraft engines at the air base, Joe loved working on cars and enjoyed hanging out with friends in the garage and around a backyard fire, his brother Mike said.
In addition to his wife, Joe is survived by his mother Barbara Tandy, of Moriches, his father and stepmother, Jack and Donna Tandy of Mattituck, his brother Michael Tandy of Bellport, his brother Ethan Tandy of Mattituck, and his mother- and father-in-law, Susan and Stephen Buczak.
The family will receive visitors on Friday, Feb. 26, from 2 to 9 p.m. at DeFriest-Grattan Funeral Home in Mattituck.
A funeral mass will be held at 10 a.m. Saturday, Feb. 27, at Our Lady of Good Counsel R.C. Church in Mattituck. Interment will follow at Cutchogue Cemetery.
Memorial donations may be made to the Wounded Warrior Project.
Editors’ note: This article has been amended since first published to correct the name of the HH-60 Pavehawk helicopter, which was misstated in the original article.