High school sweethearts at Clarks Summit Abington High School, Pete and Liana Smith were seniors and co-captains of the football team and cheerleading squad, respectively; when they started going steady.
Their romance got its start at a Scranton Lions Club Dream Game, in high school. And there you go, said Liana.
On Aug. 11, 2012, they celebrated their 50th wedding anniversary at a dinner party hosted by their friends, and a few days later took family and members of their wedding party out for dinner.
She obviously was beautiful then and still is today, Pete said of his wife. She has an incredible energy about her that was immediately attractive and continues to be.
Following high school graduation in 1960, Pete accepted a football scholarship through the University of Florida and they were apart for a while. They became engaged shortly afterward. We decided the long distance thing was not great, so we married in the summer of 1962 before Pete entered his junior year, said Liana.
She was 20 and he was 19 when they married.
…When you grow up, you don't have mommy and daddy to count on. It was my first time away from home and I cried a lot for a couple of weeks. But it was a great experience because it was just the two of us and you really develop a bond.
Approximately 125 guests attended their wedding at Our Lady of the Snows Church in Clarks Summit and reception at the former Country Inn, most recently Amici. They honeymooned at Split Rock Lodge.
We packed everything we owned into the car and headed south, said Pete.
He described their newlywed days living in Florida as Two Yankees in the south in 1962. They came home to northeastern Pa. in 1965; Pete with his master's degree, and a teaching position in Hazleton. After their return, they welcomed daughter, Ashley.
Are they surprised their marriage has endured 50 years? No.
If anybody says there aren't ups and downs, they're not telling the truth. But, you can't really believe that it's 50 years. It just doesn't seem possible. Where did that time go? Liana said.
We've been part of an extended family since we were married and I think there's a shelter there…It's nice to have other people you can turn to when you have a question or a little bump in the road, Pete said. Their support group also includes very, very close friends, according to Pete. We're very open with each other. We don't hide our laundry. We've always had that shelter (of friends) as well.
Pete served as a social studies teacher at Hazleton, Wyoming Area and Abington Heights high schools; assistant principal at Abington High School, south campus; and principal of the high school. Following retirement, he took on the role of chief administrative officer and principal of the Northeast Charter School and also worked for two years at Lourdesmont School. Liana worked with Northeastern Educational Intermediate Unit for 29 years as a driver and between runs, staffed different boutiques in the area.
One of the traits they share in their marriage is an ability to laugh. Pete explained, We don't have problems laughing at or with each other. Liana is very structured and organized. When she has a job she starts and finishes it…When I have a job, before I'm done, I've started five or six others and I seldom finish any of them.
They have three children: Ashley, 47, Peter, 45 and Jason, 42, as well as four grandchildren they grandparent together. Some of their common interests include traveling in their fifth wheel throughout the United States, attending flea markets and estate sales and reading.
For the next 50 years together, Liana said, they hope to basically do we did for the first 50 years.
They aim to travel, spend time with family, special friends and stay healthy. Without good health nothing else matters, she added.
And a little romance doesn't hurt. For all notable anniversaries, Liana said her husband surprised her with a piece of jewelry, sometimes even designing it personally.
The 50th was a necklace that Pete designed and James Simrell crafted, she said.
Her husband said love is the spark.
A successful marriage happens when you fall in love over and over again with the same person. That has worked for me, Pete said. Just when things are calming down, she'll do something to make me fall in love with her again.
To have your love story or special anniversary considered for a feature in an upcoming edition of The Abington Journal, send name, contact info, anniversary date and details to Editor Kristie Ceruti, kgrier@theabington journal.com, call 585.1604, visit the Abington Journal, 211 S. State Street, Clarks Summit, PA 18411.