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After a Tragic Beginning, a ‘Happily Ever After’

Date No. 2 took a while. But at the bar at the Baccarat Hotel in late April, Ms. Katz decided she shouldn’t have waited so long to reconnect with him. “He was so adorable and so smart, and his texts to me were so thoughtful,” she said. Weeks later, on June 10, they declared themselves a couple. “It was a casual, de facto thing where we were like, I don’t think we should see other people,” Mr. Sacks said. He was by then in awe of her. “Once I knew how her life started, it was mind-boggling. I had so much respect for her values and how far she had come.”

Credit…Ira Rosen Studio

Mr. Sacks met Ms. Katz’s fathers, Bruce Katz and Steven Matz, just after they became exclusive. He knew that Mr. Katz was Ms. Katz’s biological uncle, and that the two men had adopted her and her younger sister, Kimberly Katz, in 2002. Ms. Katz lived in Brookville, on Long Island, until she was 8. In 2001, her father, Dr. Richard A. Leopold, died from carbon monoxide poisoning in the family’s garage. He left a suicide note. The poison gas caused the deaths of his wife, Dr. Rhonda Leopold, and the couple’s 5-year-old daughter, Allison. Ms. Katz and Kimberly, plus the family’s housekeeper, also overcome by fumes, were the only survivors.

Mr. Katz’s devotion to his late sister’s remaining children reset Ms. Katz’s young life. “He really stepped up,” she said. “It was difficult being on Long Island, where everyone knew who we were and stared and felt sorry for me, and where having two dads wasn’t very common.” She credits her resilience to her fathers and to a lack of alternatives: “When something like that happens to you, you either crack or you move forward.”

When Mr. Sacks proposed, on Sept. 26, 2020, it was with the intention of moving forward with her forever. He also wanted to supply her with a life story whose end doesn’t match the beginning. “I thought, if anyone deserved a happily ever after, it’s her,” he said. “And I’m going to make it so.”

Their happily ever after started on July 17, when Mr. Sacks and Ms. Katz were married at Pelligrini Vineyards in Cutchogue, N.Y., by Jaimee Shalhevet, a rabbi at North Shore Synagogue. Ms. Katz’s fathers walked her down the aisle, but her mother wasn’t far from her thoughts. “I’ve tried to accomplish things in my life that I know she would have wanted me to,” she said. “I hope she would be proud of me.”

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