Married on Thanksgiving Day, 1943

By Illène Pevec

Special to The Sopris Sun

Lucky for John Lawyer: The U.S. Navy sent him to Brazil for his World War II service in Naval intelligence.

John and Arlette Ondine Carrijo Cord’homme later met at a Carnival party in Santos, Brazil in 1943. The most popular new song was “My Love is a Bald Head.” Due to a teenage bout with scarlet fever, John had lost his hair and was the only young bald head there for people to dance around while they sang. More dances, dinners and flowers followed. John and Arlette married on Thanksgiving Day, Nov. 25, 1943 right after Arlette took her final exam in dental surgery that morning. They rode bikes on their weekend honeymoon at Guaruja Beach.

The Navy called John back to the United States and Arlette followed. When the war ended he finished law school and they headed back to Brazil where their first daughter, (me), was born in Rio de Janeiro. The family returned to the U.S. and John practiced law with his father and uncle — three Lawyers in one Indiana law firm.

A National Geographic magazine article about Aspen and the Goethe Bicentennial drew them to Aspen, first to try skiing in the winter of 1952 and then for a summer vacation in a cabin with 4-year-old me. Everyone fell in love with the beauty and cool air. Arlette wanted to move there immediately. John didn’t, and the couple split.

My mother and I came by train to live in Aspen that November; John and Arlette divorced. That might have been the end of my parents’ lives together, but no. John decided to come west, got a job with Shell Oil, moved to Denver and my parents got married again in 1955 with me as the flower girl. My sister, Ruth Margaret Lawyer, was born the next year in Denver and our family was complete.

Always to Aspen

While we lived in Denver we always came to Aspen for vacations, so we never lost touch with our friends and the beauty in this mountain valley. In 1970 John and Arlette bought land six miles up the Crystal River Valley and settled on that beautiful mountainside to enjoy Mount Sopris every day. John quit his Denver job and opened his own law practice in Glenwood Springs and eventually became Carbondale’s municipal judge, a job he held for 25 years. Arlette Ondine taught Spanish for Colorado Mountain College and started the Great Books program that she still leads at the library. John taught astronomy and cosmology for CMC and brought many people to his home observatory to view the stars, planets and galaxies in the crystal-clear nights.

In the past decade all my five children — Adriana, Lucien, Olivia, Zuleika and Hamilton Pevec — have come to live with their grandparents at some point. Carbondale has been the family center at my parents’ welcoming home for more than four decades. I returned from Canada to live here, too. My parents welcomed us all and hosted many dinner parties.

This spring, John and Arlette sold their house on the mountainside and moved to town. We celebrated John’s 95th birthday in their new Carbondale home. We will celebrate their 70th wedding anniversary with a family Thanksgiving dinner graced by a beautiful view of Mount Sopris with aspen trees framing it.

My parents have nine grandchildren and look forward to welcoming their seventh great-grandchild soon. My sister and her whole family will be here from New York for Christmas as they are every year.  We want to honor the love my parents have sown and reaped for these 70 years. Thank you Mama and Daddy, Vovó and Grandpa! We all love you: Illène Pevec; Ruth Margaret Lawyer; Don Sunderland; Jennifer Sunderland; Paul Clark, Milo Clark; Larisa, Jamie and Gabrielle Sunderland; Adriana Pevec Brown and Seth Brown; Ruthie, Isabella and Ana Sophia Brown; Lucien and Gabriella Pevec; Aisha and Wynne Pevec; Olivia Pevec; Zuleika Pevec and Dave Kodama; Hamilton Pevec and Devika Gurung.