World War II Vet Finally Takes His Sweetheart to Prom 66 Years Later

Ralph and LaVerne Wozniak finally fulfilled their dream of attending prom.

June 25, 2015, 5:42 PM
PHOTO: World War II Vet Finally Takes His Sweetheart to Prom 66 Years Later
World War II Vet Finally Takes His Sweetheart to Prom 66 Years Later
Courtesy Ralph Wozniak

— -- Ralph and LaVerne Wozniak absolutely love dancing together. In fact, it’s how they first met.

“Oh yeah we love to dance,” LaVerne, 87, told ABC News of her favorite pastime. “We did the polkas. We’re Polish and we love the polka.”

The two lovebirds met at a USO dance after a friend introduced them. Ralph was still serving in the Marine Corps at the time.

“My girlfriend happened to go to elementary school with him,” LaVerne explained. “She introduced him to me and we danced and I said, ‘OK.’ And then week after week we’d just keep going.”

The one dance they never got to share together, however, was prom.

“It was the wartime so we didn’t have proms. All we had was a senior dance,” said LaVerne.

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Despite missing those, they still enjoyed a special “first dance” together on their wedding day — April 23, 1949 — in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, before Ralph was called for duty again in Korea.

“When we got married we got a letter in the mail because he was still in the reserves,” said LaVerne. “When the Korean letter came it said you’ve got 30 days to take care of all your problems. It was right after we got married and it was really heartbreaking.”

Yet again, they were missing another opportunity to attend prom. Ralph, now 89, had attained his GED at a local high school after coming home from World War II, but “couldn’t make the prom because I was called for Korea,” he explained.

It’s something that’s irked the couple for decades, especially after watching all four of their children attend beautiful, extravagant proms with fancy dresses, tuxedos and corsages.

“Why the hell couldn't we have gone to the prom?,” Ralph jokingly said to local ABC affiliate WFTS.

But all that’s changed now. On June 18, he finally got to twirl his wife on the dance floor at the Hillsborough County Aging Services Senior Prom.

“It just made us feel alive again,” said LaVerne, who donned a gorgeous gold gown that reminded her of her younger years.

“At one time I had blonde hair,” she explained. “Then after a while, with age, it began turning white. I had other gowns but I wanted to wear the gold one because it was just beautiful. It was strapless and it had a shawl. I didn’t know if it was going to fit but sure enough, it fit.”

The event was appropriated called “Black Tie Affair,” so LaVerne made sure Ralph was “all spiffed up in his black tie.”

His sharp duds paid off, too.

Ralph, looking handsome in his grey jacket and black bow tie, was officially crowned prom king after his name was drawn out of a hat.

“Since 1944 when I joined the Marine Corps until this date today I never thought I’d be a king, and here I am a king,” he beamed with pride.

The newly invigorated couple both says the prom was well worth the wait, proving the old adage, “Better late than never.”

“He’s going to be king for the whole year,” said LaVerne. “It gave us something we actually could celebrate. That was everything. It was very, very nice. It’s something we’ll be remembering for a long time. And now everybody is teasing him that we have to bow down to him.”

When asked if they had one piece of advice for other couples trying to keep young, Ralph’s reply was simple: “Get involved with a senior center. Keep as active with it as possible. This prom came to us out of the clear blue sky and now I’m a king.”

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