LaVerne is a native Californian. She was born and raised in San Francisco. "My favorite era in fashion was the 1940s," said LaVerne. "Everyone was having such a good time. And the dresses were beautiful."
LaVerne decided she wanted to see the world. She signed up with the US Government and took a job in Japan during the Korean War. "I went to work in a 1,000 bed hospital in Tokyo. They emptied the hospital and brought in 1,000 doctors. The hospital was filled with injured soldiers." said LaVerne, the medical transcriber.
During the summer of 1951, LaVerne climbed to the top of Mt. Fuji with some nurses. "Coming down the mountain was tough, they gave me army boots to wear." Not too long after her climb she met an Air Force Bombardier who flew 144 missions between WWII and the Korean War. They had something in common. He also recently climbed 12,388 feet to the top of Mt. Fuji.
After a three month courtship they knew they wanted to get married, so they began shopping for a ring. "We couldn't find one in Tokyo, so we went to Yamamoto." There, in a jewelry shop, the lights went out. "We knew we wanted to buy a ring so the shopkeeper brought out some candles. We chose the ring in candle light."
Mr. and Mrs. Hayden married on Dec. 10, 1951, in Tokyo. "Back then there were no department stores," explained LaVerne who was 26 years old at the time. "I had my dress made from French lace."
They were married more than 30 years and raised three children together. "You only find true love once," LaVerne said. After her husband retired from Mather Air Force Base, he joined her as a Realtor in a company her mother began. LaVerne, now a widow for over 30 years has spent her time being active and traveling. "I've been to all seven continents," she said with pride. LaVerne currently lives at Eskaton Lodge Gold River.
At 90 years old, she made her first appearance on television to show off her wedding dress and the uniform her husband wore in 1951. LaVerne's daughter living in Australia had kept the clothing in mint condition and brought them over for a fashion show. LaVerne was so excited for her son and daughters to see her TV debut on Sac and Company, ABC channel 10 on January 15, 2016.
The uniform and wedding dress, along with an engagement dress, will be on display at the 100 Years of Fashion show on January 23, 2016, from 11 am to 3 pm at Eskaton Lodge Gold River, 11390 Coloma Rd, Gold River, CA 95670. Call (916) 852-7900 or visit www.eskaton.org/100 for details.