Sonora residents John Patrick “Pat” and Leona May Peters, of Sonora, celebrated 70 years of marriage Jan. 18.

The couple met in Sonora, where Pat had returned after serving in the Marine Corps during World War II. Leona moved from New York to Sonora with her sister and brother-in-law, Erma and John Pretto, during the war.

Pat went to work for Beerman and Jones, a construction company in Sonora, and Leona worked at JC Penney in downtown Sonora, which is where she caught Pat’s eye.

Their first date was to a basketball game, and the couple married on Jan. 18, 1947, in Reno, Nevada. They were driven to Reno along with best man Bill Russell and matron-of-honor Rita (Waddlow) Bahten by Bob Morse, the only member of the wedding party who had a car.

Pat said the trip on the way over Highway 80 was “as cold as a polar bear’s nose.”

The couple settled in Sonora and raised their family on a ranch in the Columbia area. Their children are Vonnie Lefman and her husband, Phil, of Sonora, Michael Peters, of Modesto, Denise Emerald and her husband, Mike, of Sonora, and Deney Peters, of Massachusets. They also have eight grandchildren and 13 great-grandchildren.

Pat’s job at Beerman and Jones was bought out by George Reed Inc., where he worked as an operating engineer and superintendent until his retirement. Leona stayed at home and raised their four children.

Pat’s hobbies include fishing, hunting and sports, while Leona’s include baking, sewing, gardening, watching her great-grandchildren play sports, and routing for the San Francisco 49ers.

The couple credits their long marriage to patience, friendship, give-and-take, trust and love for family.

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