Wedding anniversary

Together since 1951, the Newport Beach couple celebrate their 70th wedding anniversary

It all started with a chance encounter at a summer camp in 1951.

Sid and Serene were camp counselors, both 22 at the time, when they met in Idyllwild. Sid was about to complete his undergraduate studies at UC Berkeley upon his return from camp, and Serene planned to find a job as a teacher. The two spent every morning and evening together and at the end of the summer the young couple decided to tie the knot.

“When you’re together every day, it cuts down on the time required,” quipped Sid Stokes, now 92.

“The proposition was simple,” recalls Sid. Serene said, ‘Although I have a job in Los Angeles County, I’m not going to let you go. I’m going to go up there, live up there and be near you. So, we didn’t go through this period of being geographically undesirable. There was something cementing about it.

So, at the end of the summer, Serene moved to Northern California to be with Sid, a teacher in the Oakland Unified School District as he finished his senior year at Cal.

The two were married in Montebello on December 30, 1951, just a few months after their first meeting, and have been together ever since. Their brothers and sisters served them as ring bearers and flower girls. Finding the floral arrangements the couple wanted was a bit difficult, as much of the floral stock was used to decorate the floats for the 1952 Rose Parade. Fortunately, plants from a home garden filled the bill for the big one. day, according to one of their daughters.

It was raining, as it was this week 70 years later, but the clouds cleared just as Serene arrived and got out of the car to meet her husband.

The Stokes remarried on their 50th birthday at the Bat Yahm Temple and were planning to hold another ceremony on Thursday, their 70th birthday, but decided to call off proceedings over fears of the winter wave of cases of COVID-19.

Photos of the wedding day of Sid and Serene Stokes on December 30, 1951 in Montebello.

(Kevin Chang / Staff Photographer)

Their hands overlapped on the arm of the sofa in their Corona del Mar home which they have shared since 1988 while recounting their long life together. Serene was smiling, intervening every now and then as Sid explained how he was enlisted during the Korean War and the places and years their three daughters – Stacey Stokes, Susan Stokes and Sally Sefami – were born.

Serene said she taught while Sid was overseas, serving in the United States Navy. When Sid returned he accepted a job in the aerospace industry. Back then, until the late 1950s, they lived in the Bay Area, but around 1959 or 1960, they remember moving to New York for a brief period, but “neither the dog nor the children couldn’t stand the snow, ”recalls Sid.

They would then move to Southern California, eventually landing in Newport Beach, which they’ve called home for decades. Serene continued her career in education, eventually becoming principal of Washington, Jefferson, and Remington Elementary Schools in Santa Ana. Years later, after her retirement, she served on the board of directors for the Newport-Mesa Unified School District.

Sid, too, continued his interest in education. He was assistant superintendent of affairs for the Covina-Valley Unified School District when they arrived in Newport. He attended the Coast Community College District Foundation, the Newport Beach Sister City Assn. and the Navy League of Newport Beach.

These days, they just love living in Newport Beach and spending time with their family.

Two of their daughters, Sally and Susan, have remained local. Sally teaches Spanish at Sage Hill and Susan teaches at Newport Coast Elementary. Their eldest, Stacey, previously worked for the California Supreme Court.

Between the three, the Stokes have eight grandchildren. They are spread across the country in places like Boston, New York, and Washington.

The Stokes’ advice for couples who aspire to a relationship as long as theirs?

“It’s very simple. We have been the PR department for each other. We were shocked at the start of our marriage when we first met people, the first thing they had to do with them. started talking was their spouses and how bad they were, “Sid said.” We said, ‘This will never happen to us. We will never speak negatively about our spouses.

“That’s our advice,” he said with a smile.

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