Davidsons celebrate 50th
Pontiac residents Al and Sharon Davidson celebrated their 50th wedding anniversary July 6 and plan to mark the occasion by returning to Niagara Falls, where they honeymooned in 1968. Sharon grew up near Minot, North Dakota, the daughter of Audrey and John Opitz. Al was raised in New Hyde Park on Long Island, New York, the son of Alex and Janice Davidson. Louise Davidson became his stepmother after his mother died when he was 10. He and Sharon met at a roller rink in Minot while Al was based at Minot Air Force Base, where he served as a firefighter and later would become a missile site manager. They were married in the base chapel by a new pastor who was performing his first wedding. “He was a basket case,” Sharon said. “In the back of the church, before the ceremony, he told Al, ‘OK, you run, and I’ll make excuses.’ The Davidsons’ two daughters were born in North Dakota while Al continued to serve in the Air Force. During his 20-year military career they lived all over the U.S. and in Guam. After leaving the military, Al continued to serve in the Air Force Reserves and worked as a management personnel recruiter, and Sharon was a stockbroker. They eventually left those careers to spend the next 20 years as antique dealers. “We traveled around the country buying things so we could travel around the country selling things at antique shows,” Sharon said. They first visited the Ozarks while Al was based with the Air Force in Mississippi. “We loved the area and loved fishing,” said Sharon. In the 1990s they “came to Branson to look around” and liked what they saw. In 1996 they bought their property in Pontiac. The day they went to the Pontiac post office to rent a box, they ran into Ted Gutweiler, then the Pontiac-Price Place Volunteer Fire Department chief. “He started visiting with us, and when he found out Al had 30 years of firefighting experience, he said, ‘Come on over to the station, and I’ll get you credentialed.’ Al said no thank you, but Ted kept on talking. As we were walking out the door, Ted was directing us to the firehouse. And the next thing you know, Al’s walking out with a bunker bag, and I got my start as a medical first responder,” Sharon said. Before resigning as PPPVFD chief earlier this year, Al served in the position 10-12 years. He and Sharon are still active in the department; both still drive the firetrucks when needed, and Sharon serves on the board. Their daughters are Maryjanice Alongi and her husband, Anthony, of Hastings, Minnesota, and Yvonne Hemze and her husband Paul, of Farmington, Minnesota. They also have two grandchildren, Christina, 22, and William, 19. In addition to visiting Niagara Falls on their anniversary trip, the Davidsons plan to visit their family in Minnesota and also spend some time in Maine, “sampling the lobster shacks,” Sharon said.