By Michael Farbstein, son-in-law to Rema and Joe Cotton
On Dec. 22, 1944, a young man named Joe Cotton asked Rema Nelson to marry him. Recently returned to the states from being shot down over Greece in World War II, and spending three harrowing months evading the Nazis, Mr. Cotton was ready for a challenge of a more domestic sort.
They eloped from their native Indiana to Kentucky, where it was legal for the 15-year-old Miss Nelson to wed the 22-year-old Joe Cotton. When they returned home, and told their parents, Rema's father said to his daughter, "You'd better make this stick."
Indeed they have. Monday, Dec. 22, marked the 70th wedding anniversary for Joe and Rema Cotton, who have lived in Atherton since 1971.
The years have brought more than the usual share of adventures and struggles. The Cottons moved many times, as Joe pursued his assignments as an Air Force test pilot. They lived in Texas, Ohio, Alabama, Florida and Great Britain, finally settling at Edwards Air Force Base in the Mojave Desert, where Joe flew some of the most exotic airplanes of his generation (XB-70 program).
Along the way, their three children were born, Chris Cotton of Atherton, Connie Jo Cotton of Palo Alto, and Candy Cotton Farbstein of San Mateo.
In 1966, Joe retired as an Air Force colonel, and the family moved to the Bay Area, for Joe to spend the next 15 years flying with the test group for United Airlines.
Joe retired in 1982, and it was Rema's turn to take the helm of the relationship and do what she wanted them to do. They are actively involved in the lives of the children, their five grandchildren, and their two great grandchildren.
Now, at ages 92 and 85, Joe and Rema face considerable medical hurdles. But their love grows richer every year.
The determination and commitment of the greatest generation is not just reserved for the battlefields of war.