Residents of Oak Ridge, Tennessee – one of the three main sites of the Manhattan Project – celebrate the surrender of Japan (Wikimedia Commons | US Army | Ed Westcott)
August 14, 1945 was a day the world had waited desperately for – it was the end of World War II. Known as V-J Day (Victory over Japan) since Japan's surrender was the last puzzle piece in the war, it was cause for celebration as a terrible period in our history finally came to a close.
It was a particularly special day for some people – those who met the loves of their lives while they were celebrating the end of the war. That's the kind of story you tell the grandkids… and in some cases, the grandkids love the story so much that they include it in your obituary. Quite a few obituaries in our database relate the stories of V-J Day love connections, and we're spotlighting some of our favorites.
Edmond Vanover turned a moment of elation into a lifetime of love. As his obituary on AnnArbor.com tells it, Upon hearing that the Japanese surrendered, Ed stepped off a train at its next stop and gave a stranger, a pretty young woman named Colleen (Connie) Whisman, a celebratory kiss. Two years later they were married, and on May 31, 2010 they celebrated their sixty-fourth wedding anniversary. During the war, Vanover served in the U.S. Navy in the Pacific; in his civilian life, he became a supervisor for General Motors. Connie survives him, along with their two children, five grandchildren and five great-grandchildren.
Dominic De Leo needed a little help from a future in-law to make his match. He met Dorothy at a VJ Day block party after calling out, "Who wants to kiss a sailor." Violet Terranova, his future mother in-law, stepped forward. She introduced Dom to Dorothy, and Dom declared she was the one he would marry. And they did in 1947. De Leo’s obituary in The Journal News delivers more details of a happy life: he did two crossword puzzles in pen every morning; rooted for his beloved Brooklyn Dodgers and was overjoyed when they won the World Series; lived passionately and by example encouraged his children to do the same. That's seven children – six of whom survive, along with Dorothy.
Warren Olson met his wife-to-be while recovering from a serious injury. Warren earned a purple heart for being shot through the chest by a German sniper while engaged in clean-up operations in a small town in Belgium. He was sent to a VA hospital in Denver to recuperate from his wound, and on a pass from the hospital he met the love of his life Maurine at a VJ Day dance. After their first date she went home and told her best friend she'd met the man she was going to marry. His obituary in the Press Democrat describes the life of a man who lived passionately, with a special love for good martinis and red wine, backpacking, traveling in Europe, and spirited dialogue with friends and family. Maurine and their three children survive him.
V-J Day helped Harold Anderson get over his fear and take a chance: He would never have had the nerve to ask her out, since Phyllis was the boss's daughter but with all the excitement over VJ Day, he overcame his uncertainty and they enjoyed a pleasant ride in a convertible on Turnbull Canyon Road enjoying the sites and getting to knew each other. His obituary in the Inland Valley Daily Bulletin describes how he went on to build a business from the ground up: starting with only a few tools and a mind that would not quit, he began a business that eventually branched off into three different divisions. He, with Phyllis created Industry Equipment Rentals, Inc., Industry Lift, Inc., and Industry Property Investments Inc., all located in the City of Industry and made a successful career for himself as well as several hundred people over the years that he employed and whose lives he enormously enriched. Phyllis survives him, along with their two children, five grandchildren and nine great-grandchildren.
And here are a few more V-J love stories that caught our eye:
Earl Shor met the love of his life while on leave from the Navy at a VJ Day block party in Brooklyn, New York at the end of WWII.
Grace Haag met her husband Francis T. Haag in 1945 in front of the Salt Lake Tribune building during the celebration of VJ day.
Margaret Domgard met her husband, Robert E. Domgard, on VJ Day, Aug. 14, 1945, and was united in marriage to him eight weeks later on Oct. 5, 1945.
Juanita Shackelford met her husband on VJ Day while celebrating on the streets of Kansas City, Missouri.
Written by Linnea Crowther