Nov. 3—VALDOSTA — John and Elenora Warren have achieved a milestone that few individuals can say they've witnessed in their lifetimes. On Monday, Oct. 30, the Warrens celebrated their 69th wedding anniversary.
John, 90, was introduced to his wife Elenora at his aunt's home. He was returning home on holiday from the Air Force when his aunt invited her over for them to meet. Elenora was working in Miami as a nurse and John was stationed in Anchorage, Alaska.
"It was through my aunt that we came together. We knew each other but we weren't together. We didn't get together [officially] until I came back from Anchorage and we got married then," John said.
It was hard for John to highlight a certain period or specific moment that was his favorite within their relationship. Although he could not remember all the details, he still recalls the letters they used to send to each other during his time in Alaska.
"Even when we got married, there was a time I was stationed in Alaska and she was down in Miami as a nurse. The only contact we had was through letters. You can't really say you get to know someone through a letter but that's the way we got to know each other. When I was shipped back from there, we went ahead and got married," John explained.
Each time he received a letter from Elenora, John felt a spike of luck due to being in a remote site. His squadron received mail once a month. John said he and other Air Force men would ask for any magazines or physical publications in their letters to their loved one.They quickly went from one small mail bag to sometimes two to three large delivery bags.
The Warrens were in their early 20s when they said, "I do," on Oct. 30, 1954. Now in their early 90s, the couple has experienced all aspects of navigating life together. They have three children James (65), Kathy (64) and Anna Rivera (51), four grandchildren and two great-grandchildren.
The most challenging part of their relationship was distance while he was active and deployed in the military.
"During that time, I was stationed at different locations so she was left at home with the kids. She took care of everything and all the bills. She was working. The fact that she was able to maintain the household and keep contact with me," he said in admiration of Elenora.
The couple loves to be together and enjoy their retirement together. They used to go camping often but now they enjoy less strenuous activities like cooking occasional meals and playing the Hasbro Yahtzee dice game.
"We just joined together and everything was perfect. You can't say that you really enjoy something more than anything else except getting out with our kids when they were smaller," he said. "We like doing the same things and we like to be together."
Unfortunately, one part of having a life-long marriage is sticking together when their spouse or family member's health is lessening. The Warrens came to the Valdosta area about two years ago after John's brother passed. They do everything together and battle against Elenora's Alzheimer's disease.
Anna, the Warren's youngest child, is the main caretaker for her parents. She favors watching how well they get along together and are able to talk through situations. Those are qualities she's worked to apply in her relationships.
"When you are a kid and as you grow up the basis and heart of the family is your parents and grandparents. They are who you look up to. They are who teach you and mold you. Each special in their own way. Even though I have two siblings older than me, I felt like an only child at times. My parents taught me a lot and I could not be more grateful as they were always there for me. Now I take care of them," she said.
Anna explained when her father retired they moved to Florida and lived there for several years.
She and her siblings would be with John at nights while her mother worked as a nurse overnight.
She admires her parents' relationship and thanks them for inspiring her children's plans after they graduated high school. It was the one of the few times she saw her father cry.
"My dad has been more of a father figure to both of my kids since their dad wasn't. They both look up to my father and try to keep in contact as much as possible. My daughter followed in my father's footsteps and went into the military. She at first wanted to be a corpsman, as her grandmother was a registered nurse and I had gone back to college to be a medical assistant. But fate took her another direction.
She will never forget the special times of watching her parents' relationship and will always cherish her time with them.
"I would always laugh when my parents told me stories of their lives growing up and things that happened while my father was in the Air Force. Dad had quite a few to tell, especially about the moose that came into their barracks up in Alaska and how he and his buddies jumped on their cots trying to get it turned around and out the door again. Things us kids did as we grew up. Mom telling me of being found on the swing with grandpa after eating green onions from the garden. Those were special times. I never get tired of the stories, no matter how many times they tell them," she concluded.