It’s a big deal when a couple reaches their 50th wedding anniversary since only six percent of the U.S. population sees it. Even bigger at 60 years. Only about 0.1 percent of married couples in America have been married for 70 years. But Tom and Genie Dimperio of Ceres defy the odds as they celebrated their 73rd wedding anniversary on March 18.
Tom is now 99, Genie 96.
The couple met after Tom was sent home wounded from his service in World War II. The severe wounds he sustained in his left arm on Oct. 2, 1944 between Florence and Bologna, Italy resulted in Tom being sent home to undergo for 25 months of hospitalization. Tom spent over two years at nine different hospitals while mending. After being sent to Charleston, S.C. for surgery, he was on a train bound for DeWitt General Hospital in Auburn. There Dr. Edward K. Prigge shook his head and observed that Tom had signs of yellow jaundice.
After his condition stabilized, Tom was able to leave the hospital. One weekend in April 1945 he and a friend went to downtown Auburn to visit a bar. Two girls riding rented horses were moving past the Freeman Hotel. Tom wanted to meet them and followed in the 1940 Ford convertible. One of them was Genevieve “Genie” Foster who lost her brother, Airman Jesse Pierce, when he was killed aboard a fully loaded B-29 bomber that crashed as it took off from India for a Japanese bombing mission.
Tom asked Genie out for a burger but she politely turned him down. Sometime later he persisted and after her friends suggested she take him up on the date they finally went out.
“From then on we went to the movies and dated a whole year,” said Genie.
When the Auburn hospital closed and forced Tom to be relocated to Birmingham General Hospital in Van Nuys, Tom and Gene stayed in touch by letter. Genie kept busy raising son David who was left fatherless by an unfortunate crash near Applegate.
Tom and Genie were married March 18, 1946 in Reno. They made their home in Ceres where Tom was raised and graduated from Ceres High School in 1938.