Tami Jo Nix/The Madera Tribune
Leon and Doris Potter at the sign that graces the front of their house in Madera. They have been married since July 18, 1953, as the sign indicates.
Since July 18, 1953, Doris and Leon Potter have been husband and wife.
Before that, the high school sweethearts went steady in their junior year and became engaged senior year at Madera Union High School.
At their parents’ urging, the young lovebirds had a two-year-long engagement.
Their love of vocal music extended through high school and later in the choir at the Madera United Methodist Church.
They have celebrated Valentines’ Days together since the 10th grade, although they have stopped exchanging Valentine cards quite some time ago, Doris said.
“We always do something together on Valentine’s Day,” she said.
After graduating high school, Leon attended California State University, Fresno. While at Fresno State, he pledged the Lambda Chi Alpha fraternity and enlisted in the Air Force Reserve Officers Training Corps program.
This ROTC affiliation enabled Leon to defer his military service until after college graduation.
While attending college, Leon and Doris wrote letters back and forth from Fresno to Madera where Doris worked as a secretary, including at the Madera Fairgrounds.
After Leon earned his degree, he entered the Air Force and served on active duty for three years. The family traveled living in Texas and Guam, among their ports-of-call.
They have four children — Debbie, David, Diane and Doug, the only child born in Madera. They have been blessed with seven grandchildren and seven great-grandchildren.
“A happy family has always been the most important part of our lives,” Doris said.
Once Leon fulfilled his military commitment and was honorably discharged, he got a phone call from his father about a job opening at the Madera County Office of Education.
Superintendent Emerson Bain offered him a position where he taught classes now called Special Education. He drove his students to school and home again in his 61 Chevrolet Impala.
“That would never be allowed today,” he said.
The mileage fee for the 100 miles a day he drove made the payments, insurance, and upkeep on the car, said Doris.
When the various districts in Madera became Madera Unified School District in 1966, its new head, Superintendent Duane Furman needed a guidance counselor. Leon’s degree in psychology made him the perfect selection and Dr. Furman offered him the job.
“In all my working years I have never had a job interview,” Leon said. “I have been offered jobs and accepted them,” he said.