AUGUSTA — Evelyn White and Don Lucero started planning their Valentine’s Day wedding just a few weeks ago.

But no one can accuse the couple of rushing into anything.

They recently marked the 32nd anniversary of their first date on Jan. 29, White’s 80th birthday.

White had long wanted to get married, but Lucero, 90, had resisted, not seeing the point of formalizing a relationship that was committed from the start.

As White’s birthday approached, however, Lucero changed his mind, according to White’s sister, Alice Foren.

“He said, ‘I don’t know what to get her. I’ve given her flowers and everything,'” Foren said. “So, he asked her to marry him.”

They couldn’t get the paperwork together in time to marry on their anniversary, so they decided to put it off for a couple of weeks.

On Tuesday, they pushed aside the dining room table in their Church Hill Road home and exchanged vows in front of a window and a low table White had decorated with red flowers, Valentine’s Day-themed garlands and tinsel hearts. Heidi Small, their mortgage loan officer, officiated the brief ceremony.

Between 30 and 40 friends and relatives attended to celebrate the union between Lucero, a World War II veteran originally from New Mexico, and White, an Augusta native who grew up on Cony Hill as one of 17 children.

Lucero and White met when he was her son-in-law’s supervisor at a cement company in Los Angeles.

“She was going through a real bad time, getting divorced,” said Lucero, who also was previously married. “It looked to me like she needed somebody. I figured, it isn’t going to hurt anybody for me to take her out. She finally accepted, and so we got hooked up from there.”

Their first date was on White’s birthday.

“We went out to dinner in a fancy restaurant, and he put on all these fancy airs,” she said.

He came to see her again early the next morning, knocking on her door shortly after getting off the night shift he worked at the time.

They moved to Augusta in 1989 so White could care for her mother. They had planned to travel the country in a motor home but decided to stay put when Lucero fell in love with Maine.

Although they’re healthy now, they decided to get married in part to minimize any difficulty with the multiple properties they own together or Lucero’s pension.

“We want to fix it so the other is secure if something happens,” White said.

She and Lucero attribute their good health to a diet full of produce and low on chemical additives.

They both have pacemakers, however, and Lucero is hard of hearing because of injuries he sustained when the Japanese bombed Clark Air Base in the Philippines on Dec. 7, 1941, the same day of the attack on Pearl Harbor. Lucero later escaped the Bataan Death March and spent the duration of World War II in the jungles of Luzon as a prisoner.

Lucero owns two planes that he keeps in Norridgewock and still enjoys flying — when White lets him.

The two of them tease each other constantly, with White frequently commenting on the attention Lucero receives from women.

“He’s always been a handsome man,” she said. “When he was younger, oh, all the girls used to chase him. That’s why I didn’t let him go.”

Lucero gives it back to her.

“They’re great together,” Foren said. “He aggravates her, and she lets him get away with it.”

Susan McMillan — 621-5645

[email protected]

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