Featured Story

Love on the Rock: From childhood crush to creating a Shelter Island life

This is the inaugural column talking with couples about love and life on Shelter Island.

Little did they know as first graders — perched in the reading loft in Mrs. Clark’s classroom — that they would one day create a similar Shelter Island life for their own kids.

Twenty-six years later, Shelby Mundy and Michael “Zack” Mundy live on the Island with their two young children, Maverick and Oakley, surrounded by a “large, loud, loving” group of family and friends.

Did they have a little crush on each other in elementary school? Shelby and Michael pause, look at each other, and laugh out loud: “Yeah, we did.”

Puppy love at play. (courtesy photo)

Michael goes on to say that when he and Shelby were in middle school, his mom Rebecca arranged a date for them to see Michael’s sister Melissa perform in the Shelter Island School musical. “My mom made me get out of the car, knock on the door, and walk Shelby out.”

Their little crush was paused throughout high school. “Even if you liked the person, it could be weird to date someone in your own class,” Shelby said. So, she and Michael remained in the same friend group, but didn’t date each other until years later.

After graduating from Shelter Island School, Shelby headed to Flagler College in St. Augustine, Fla. Freshman year she had a boyfriend. Michael recalls, “She introduced me to the dude and even tried to fix me up with her roommate at one point.”

After high school, Michael enlisted in the Marine Corps, and was soon deployed to Afghanistan. The two friends communicated by text, Facebook message, and eventually a few letters. Shelby worried about Michael, and their communication brought her comfort. When he returned home after being stationed in Hawaii, his parents threw him a party and “that’s when it all really started,” Shelby recalls.

The couple had their “first real date” at Tony’s Asian Fusion in Mattituck. “We never really had the conversation about dating each other, it just happened,” Shelby recalls. Their ideal date night remains going off-Island and having dinner in Greenport at one of their favorite restaurants, such as First and South.

Shelby and Michael moved “nine times in four years,” including time living in Hampton Bays before they settled back on the Island. “We got very lucky in 2018 when my Aunt Dorothy and Uncle Jerry sold us their house. We closed within a few months of the wedding, so that was a crazy time,” Michael remembers.

The couple was engaged in 2017, and according to Michael, “it was pretty anticlimactic. I had bought Shelby’s ring online. I was trying to come up with a way to propose and she said, ‘I know you have the ring … just give it to me.’ And so I did.”

Their October wedding the following year at the Historical Society Havens Barn was “exactly how I wanted it,” Shelby remembers. The idyllic setting of the barn decorated with cottagecore and string lights made the event magical. Jimbo Theinert officiated and Sara Mundy sang and played keyboard. “Our friends Keith and Ali Bavaro planned a great after-party at SALT. The whole day and night were amazing.”

In November 2019, the couple welcomed their son Maverick, and in January 2023, their daughter Oakley. According to Michael, “Maverick has more of Shelby’s personality. He’s particular, affectionate, and a rule follower.” Shelby adds, “Oakley has more of Michael’s — she’s sassy, rebellious, and a little daredevil.” Shelby and Michael feel fortunate to have their parents — Wendy and Lance Willumsen and Rebecca and Mike Mundy — nearby to “help us out a lot and watch the kids grow up.”

Happiness. Michael and Shelby, with Oakley on daddy’s arm, and Maverick. (Courtesy photo)

“We want our kids to have a Shelter Island childhood like we had — beach, boating, swimming, fishing, hunting, playing in the woods, and playing sports,” Michael says. “As kids, we were told not to come home until dinnertime, so when the 5 o’clock whistle blew at the basketball courts, that was my signal to head home.”

Shelby remembers her high school summers working at the Tuck Shop with owner Pat Sulahian as her boss. “Pat was my role model. She taught me so much about developing a strong work ethic.”

Shelby works at Shelter Island Town Hall as a senior account clerk, while Michael is a familiar face on North Ferry, where he’s a captain. Last year, he took over the position of commander at the American Legion Mitchell Post 281. “It’s really rewarding because I love helping vets any way I can.”

Michael has also followed in his father Mike’s footsteps by coaching the Shelter Island girls, then boys JV and varsity basketball teams for the past several years.

The couple’s vision for the future? “Part of me thinks we will stay on the Island for a long time,” Michael said.

“But we do have a dream to end up somewhere warmer, like St. Augustine, where I went to college and still have friends,” Shelby adds.

For now, Shelby and Michael are giving their kids the type of Shelter Island childhood they so adored in Mrs. Clark’s first-grade class.