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It was love at first sight in the early 1940s when Lou Pierotti set eyes on Lee Ruffini across the counter at the Wonder Bar in Walsenburg, Colorado, where Lou was working. They have been together for 70 years spending more than 60 of those years in Los Alamos.
On June 12, 1944, the two were married in the Catholic Chapel at Lowry Air Force Base in Denver. Lou was a sergeant in the U.S. Army Air Corps, stationed at Lowry Field, while Lee was working as a medical assistant in Walsenburg after having attending the University of Colorado.
After Lou was discharged from the service in January 1946, they made their home in Walsenburg, moving first to White Rock and then to Los Alamos in the early 1950s.
For more than 30 years the two worked side by side. Lou and Lee first owned and operated Pierotti’s Soda Bar in the Community Center until 1966. In the beginning Lou cooked and Lee waited tables. In 1967 they opened Pierotti’s Floral Shop on Central Avenue with Lee as head floral designer. They retired in 1984, and continue to make their home in Los Alamos.
The Pierottis are probably the most famous for their creation of the “Pierotti’s Clowns”— a zany, five-man softball team which raised money for charity. Lou dreamed up the clown acts while Lee designed the first uniforms and painted the players’ faces with colorful greasepaint. A mosaic pictorial tribute to the “Clowns” adorns Central Avenue near Mesa Public Library.
The couple are longtime members of the Immaculate Heart of Mary Catholic Church. They have been very active in the community, from charitable and civic work, to coaching young athletes in little league and lassie league. Both have always been interested in sports. Lou excelled in golf, softball, and bowling, while Lee was great at tennis and archery. In their retirement years, they mainly concentrated on golf, but now being in their mid-90s they are relaxing at home with visits from their children and friends.
In 2000, they lost their home, all their possessions, and all the “Clown” memorabilia in the Cerro Grande Fire and had to relocate to a new residence. Thanks to the people of Los Alamos and former Clown teammates, many of the lost articles were replaced. They have a dedicated room in their home for the Clown and sports memorabilia they have collected.
The Pierotti children and spouses are Michael and Patricia Pierotti of Las Vegas, Nevada, Marilee Pierotti Lau of San Francisco, Lew and Ruth Pierotti of Columbus, Ohio, Dr. David Pierotti of Flagstaff, Arizona and Peter and Dinah Pierotti of Albuquerque. Lou and Lee have seven grandchildren, Lisa, Michael, Jason, Stephanie, Jessica, Philip and Caroline, and two great grandchildren, Christopher and Briana.