Leo was in the U.S. Air Force and stationed in Spangdahlem Air Base near Bitburg and Trier, Germany. There, he met Erika while she was working at the base commissary. He was too shy to ask her out, so he had one if his friends do it for him. For the next several weeks, Leo would hang out at Erika's doorstep waiting for her to come home and eventually she succumbed to him and they married. Erika said he just wouldn't go away and apparently she was attracted to that. Leo promised Erika that she would never have to work, but that wasn't true as Leo later splurged money on stamp collecting, etc. Although Leo had prior girlfriends and Erika had kissed other men, both were virgins when they married.
Around 1975, Leo & Erika almost moved to Australia to start a new career and life, but didn't largely due to the cost. They moved to Texarkana, Texas because of a job transfer opportunity and was close to Lake Millwood where the family would go to fish and swim. One day around 1978, Erika blew up a air mattress, inhaled some sort of white powder from the mattress and had her first asthma attack. The family believes something from the mattress got in her lungs and caused chronic, very near fatal problems since. In 1986, they purchased a mobile home near Millwood Lake for recreation use. Then they decided to sell the house in Texarkana to move to Lake Millwood. They bought a nicer house up the highway a few miles and sold the mobile home. They have lived in that house ever since.
Leo and Erika had a lot of good times together, especially trips to Las Vegas, Nevada, Shreveport, Louisiana and to Branson, Missouri. However when in Las Vegas, an engine went out in their airplane and scared them into never flying again. The enjoyed teasing their poker party friends with a card trick where Erika would wink at Leo when he picked the card his victims picked when Leo wasn't looking. They had a lot of poker parties and fish fries together with many friends until about the last ten years where they became a lot more solitary, largely because many of their friends moved or died, and because of Erika's health. Leo and Erika were relatively very faithful to each other except one time Leo got too close to a neighbor's wife in Texarkana around 1983 that almost ended their marriage. This was an era of record high divorce rates, so they beat the odds by staying together a long time afterward. Leo was primarily the money maker and Erika did the cooking, cleaning and child raising. Towards the end, Leo took care of Erika by doing all the chores as her health declined. In a way, she wanted him to see how it is to do all the household chores.
For the time Erika lived in 2009, she worked diligently to prepare for their 50th wedding anniversary. She knew this would probably be the last main event of her life which was sad for her to think about, but she successfully did it. It was very difficult and stressful for her. She is a very determined, courageous and strong-willed woman. Given her circumstances, most people could not have done it. We are all very proud of her and she is an inspiration to never give up and be determined to accomplish goals.
This story was written by their son Eric in July, 2009.