Spotlight on Los Alamos: Longtime LA residents are loving life

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By Kirsten Laskey

When John and June Warren went on their honeymoon, they would later call their vacation spot “home.” Los Alamos is more than just the place where John started his career at the laboratory or the location of June’s Montessori school,  Ponderosa Montessori (formerly Sage Montessori). Los Alamos marks the beginning of their marriage.

Fifty years later, as John and June celebrated their anniversary June 7 with friends, their daughters, their granddaughter and several cousins, they reminisced about the start of their life together.

John and June met at the University of Maryland, where John was studying for his Ph.D. in solid state physics, and June was working a degree in art history.

A teacher recommended to John that he go to Los Alamos because he could get a good job. Plus, John said, he was excited about the work that was being done at Los Alamos National Laboratory.

Looking back to the mid-1950s, John said he remembers as a graduate student barely being able to trudge up the hill every day  in an old 1950 Chevrolet car.

The couple permanently settled in the White Rock area in 1958. In 1961, their first daughter, Mindy, was born. At the laboratory, John worked as an assistant director for research in the director’s office starting in 1958, and he worked at LANL until l986. He then worked on a super conductor collider project in Dallas.

“That really retired me,” he joked; John retired in 1992.

While John worked at the laboratory, June founded Sage Montessori School.

She explained she started because of first lady Jackie Kennedy. June said she was impressed with Kennedy’s work in education, and as a result, she opened the school in 1960. John contributed to the effort by designing the central building.

In addition, June said her children to a Montessori preschool so she was familiar with the teaching techniques.

June said, “Mostly, I was impressed with the better way of teaching children” through Montessori education. June ran the school for eight years before selling it.

She also became interested in the Santa Fe Opera and continues to serve as a member of the Santa Fe Opera Guild.

June explained she joined the organization with her friend, Mary Venerable. During the first year of her marriage, June said she went to the opera and “fell in love with the stage.”

She currently serves on the history committee and is co-writing a book about the first 50 years of the opera.

“We’re having a ball,” June said.

While June keeps busy with the opera guild, John has become a formidable table tennis player. He has competed during the Senior Olympics for about five years. He explained he likes the sport because “you keep your mind active and your body quick.”

John has also indulged his love of sports as a member of the Los Alamos Sportsmen’s Club, in the 1970s. He served as president for a two-year term.

The Warrens enjoy both their long-time residence. “It’s the environment (and) the good weather,” John said. “Also the fact that I have so many friends with people over the years.”

June added to celebrate being together for 50 years with their friends and family was also special. “It’s wonderful,” she said. “We’re a small family (and) we haven’t seen the cousins in 15 years.”

It was a sweet reunion for their daughters, too. Rita Warren commented she appreciates New Mexico more now that she has moved away. Rita currently lives in San Diego.

The couple’s other daughter, Mindy Erid of Houston, said she also appreciates Los Alamos. “I think the fact that it’s such a safe feeling neighbor,” she explained.

As friends and family gathered together to celebrate June and John’s marriage, John said the reunion would never happened if not for June.

“It’s my wife,” he said. “She pulled it all together.”