It started with a chuckle from neighborhood kid to neighborhood kid about the new girl in town. “I feel bad for whoever is marrying this thing,” the ninth-grader told his friend. Years later, while attending Calaveras High School, Gerald “Jerry” Meyers took “that thing” – aka his future wife, Venita Andrews – on a date. And the rest is history.
On June 7, the couple celebrated 70 years of marriage at their West Point home, where they have lived for most of those years.
His daughter Janelle Pontee remembers growing up in West Point when her father worked for the Calaveras Unified School District as a school bus driver and instructor. He was also a pastor at West Point Covenant Church, and every Wednesday after teaching his class, “they would go eat pie at the church.”
Much of the Meyers’ relationship revolved around the church; the two even got married in the courtyard of the nearby presbytery.
Pontee recalls his mother also working as a substitute teacher, despite having seven children to raise, and says his parents are “the most selfless people I know”.
The two Calaveras High graduates (Meyers graduated in 1951 and Andrews in 1952) went to college together right after high school at Pacific Bible College, now known as Azusa Pacific University. After graduating from college in 1956, the couple returned to Calaveras County with a sense of purpose.
“They put themselves in the service of the community, and that’s exactly what they did,” says Pontee.
While teaching, raising a family and leading a church, the couple also housed dozens – Pontee estimates more than 50 – of foster children, some for a few days and others for several years. Mr. Meyers was also a volunteer firefighter and participated in search and rescue operations.
“I definitely took it for granted,” says Pontee, who reached out to the Enterprise to tell her parents’ story. Pontee admitted that growing up she assumed “everyone had good parents”.
Now she acknowledges that she and her six other siblings, along with the Meyers’ 38 grandchildren, 29 great-grandchildren and two great-great-grandchildren, are “so blessed” to have the example of the love of his parents.
Until a few years ago, Mr. Meyers still officiated at weddings and funerals although he was no longer a pastor. The Meyers both have medical issues that keep them at home these days, and dementia has started to set in.
Their daughter says to them, “Now it’s time to let everyone serve you. It’s time for you to relax.
Pontee and her family plan to celebrate the remarkable couple’s love at their granddaughter Kaley’s wedding, which will take place the same week as their 70th birthday, with a special toast just for them.