San Juan County seniors share love stories

Hannah Grover
Love stories

FARMINGTON — On this day of love, The Daily Times decided to share the stories of several San Juan County couples whose relationships have stood the test of time.

Most of the couples have several decades of marriage under their belts and generously shared both their stories and their advice for other couples.


Childhood sweethearts

From left, Edward and Loretta Lawrence pose for a photo on Wednesday, along with their daughter, Stephanie, at the Aztec Senior-Community Center.

Couple: Loretta and Edward Lawrence

City: Aztec

Married: 52 years

When she was a child in Monte Vista, Colo., Loretta often walked down the street to trade comics with a neighbor boy, Edward .

As they grew older, their friendship evolved, and Edward began driving Loretta to school in his car.

“He painted it like a skunk,” Loretta recalled of the car.

Edward considers those rides to be the trigger that propelled the couple from friendship into a relationship.

When he went to college in Oklahoma, Loretta remained in Colorado.

“We used to write love letters to each other,” he said.

About 52 years ago, the couple married. Now, Edward's advice for other couples is simple.

“You’ve got to have patience,” he said. “You’ve got to be able to communicate.”

Of course, he and Loretta have had arguments, he said, but the key is they talked through the differences.

“If you decide it’s going to be my way or the highway, it’s going to be the highway,” he said.

'Give and take'

Gerry and Les Don pose for a portrait on Wednesday at the Aztec Senior-Community Center.

Couple: Gerry and Les Don

City: Farmington

Married: 58 years

Gerry first saw her future husband, Les, at a party in Casa Grande, Ariz. when she was 21 years old.

She still remembers that he was sitting on the floor and wearing a red vest when she noticed him.

At the time, the laws in Arizona forbid the two from marrying because they were not the same race. Les was Chinese, while Gerry was white.

“You couldn’t get married in Arizona,” Gerry recalled. “We had to get married in New Mexico.”

About 58 years ago, the couple headed to Lordsburg, N.M., to tie the knot.

“It used to be when you get married, you didn’t get divorced,” Gerry said.

Les added that couples have to learn to live with each other.

“Give and take,” he said. “That’s the name of the game.”


Finding love

Ellie Rivera stands for a photo with her boyfriend, Felipe Velasquez, on Thursday at the Bonnie Dallas Senior Center in Farmington.

Couple: Ellie Rivera and Felipe Velasquez

City: Farmington

Together: Four years

Ellie Rivera was sitting at a table at the Bonnie Dallas Senior Center in 2012 when Felipe Velasquez approached and offered her an apple.

The couple has been an item now for about four years, but they have no plans to get married.

"He's a good man," Rivera said. "I'm very blessed."

Both Rivera and Velasquez have been married before. And they both said that they weren't looking for someone else when they met that day in 2012.

"We laugh every day," Rivera said. "Laughter's good for the heart."

Being ready 

Gale and Wanda Krause share a moment during lunch on Thursday at the Bonnie Dallas Senior Center in Farmington.

Couple: Wanda and Gale Krause

City: Farmington

Married: 58 years

When she was in her early 20s, Wanda met her husband, Gale, while visiting her parents in north Idaho. Her mother had met Gale and introduced the two.

"She asked me to show her the town," Gale recalled.

Three months later, the Krauses got married. About 58 years later, they are still together.

Wanda said even though they only dated for a short period, both had attended college and were ready for marriage.

She said it is important for people to get to know each other before jumping into relationships.

"Finish your college," she said. "Then think about getting married."

She said that is the advice she gives her children.

"Wait until you find the one you love," her husband added.

A shared mission

Harriett and Bob Foster pose for a portrait on Thursday at the Bloomfield Senior Center.

Couple: Harriett and Bob Foster

City: Bloomfield

Married: 65 years

Harriett and Bob met while doing dishes at a religious college in Omaha, Neb.

Both had dreams of being missionaries. And after they married nearly 65 years ago, that's just what they did.

While they didn't move to Africa like they had planned, they and their then-4-year-old daughter moved to the Four Corners to be missionaries on Navajo Nation.

"The Lord put us together, the Lord kept us together and the Lord's going to take us home together," Bob said.

He said couples should talk to each other, pray together, go to church together and forgive one another.

"We made an agreement to disagree agreeably," Harriett said, adding  that she does not remember ever having a serious fight.