- Associated Press - Saturday, August 20, 2016

FREEPORT, Ill. (AP) - Sitting down on the couch together, John Peterson grabbed his wife Vera’s hand as they posed for a picture and said, “Yes, dear.”

John is a mild-mannered man who says those words are the key to their successful marriage, as well as a signal of love for his wife that captured his eye as a young man more than 77 years ago. Together, they raised seven children and enjoy 18 grandchildren, 34 great-grandchildren and five great-great grandchildren.

On Sept. 28, the couple will celebrate their 77th anniversary, but first, they will celebrate Vera turning 100 years old on Aug. 23. John said he plans to bask in the milestone with his wife at his side. She said she plans to be with her husband when he turns 100 on March 10.

The family plans an open house to celebrate Vera and their upcoming anniversary on Aug. 21 at Krape Park in Freeport.

“Everybody thinks their parents are the best,” their daughter Rita Brinkmeier said. “We look at them as parents and grandparents who have led by example, which has trickled down for generations.”

Vera said she doesn’t think it’s anything special to have lived long enough to reach 100 years old, and is happy she is able to do it with her husband at her side. She attributes her and John’s longevity to deep abiding love, a positive attitude and staying active.

Now that the former Shannon couple lives at Liberty Estates in Freeport, they remain active going to the fitness center three days a week. Vera said she also attends weekly exercise classes, and while she looks forward to weekly card games with friends at Liberty Estates, nothing trumps her family.

Her granddaughter Pam Queckboerner said her grandmother hates to miss a chance at playing cards twice a week, but Vera adds, “it’s always been family first.”

The couple wed Sept. 28, 1939, while on a trip through Des Moines, Iowa. It was a quick decision to get married.

“We were with Evelyn and we stopped in Des Moines to find a minster and we got married at his home,” Vera said.

It was a quiet affair for a couple that fell in love after a chance meeting when Vera was a housekeeper at John’s family farm. John said he saw the spark in Vera’s eye, and he was “smitten.” Vera was a friend of John’s sister, Evelyn.

When Vera moved to Freeport, John found himself missing the woman, whose laugh he had grown accustomed to, and he asked her for a date. The couple loved to attend movies and go to dances. Eventually, the topic of marriage began to come up, and both John and Vera agreed they wanted something quiet to bind their love as a wedded couple.

The couple settled into love and life. John worked at farming and carpentry. Vera worked at the Shannon Nursing Home. Their children are Randall, Richard, Ryan, Rodney, Reggie, Ramona and Rita.

“Our life has been mostly roses, but there are always thorns, but you have to reach past those thorns and come back to what the attraction was built on and stay with that,” Vera said. “It’s what holds you together. You go through valleys and up to mountains tops, but it’s all been together and through God’s help.”

Vera said when she was younger, she used to look at people in their 60s as being old, but nearing 100 years old is something to smile about. She’s amazed at how technology has progressed in her lifetime but considers longevity as a blessing from God.

“I have been blessed with a good life of husband and family,” Vera said. “I’ve stayed active, have had a good attitude and I try to stay away from doctors as much as possible.”

Rita said her mother has a keen sense of humor, including many puns.

“People may groan at some of my puns, but I still smile through it, and I feel for people who can’t laugh,” Vera said. “I have been laughing for almost 100 years, and I plan to keep laughing.”


Source: The (Freeport) Journal-Standard, https://bit.ly/2b2h0BM


Information from: The Journal-Standard, https://www.journalstandard.com/jshome.taf

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