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Wilmette's Peter Slonek and Marcia Heeter, Wilmette winners of The Beacon's How We Met Contest. Photo submitted
Staff Report
7:09 am CST February 18, 2020

It was no simple task selecting the overall winner for our annual How We Met contest, for which we gathered entries from our seven newspapers and picked one grand champion.

But we read so many inspiring, funny, sweet and heartwarming tales of love that we wanted to make sure we shared more. So here’s another special entry! 

Thank you to everyone who took the time to write and submit an essay for our annual How We Met contest, and below is our winning entry out of Wilmette. Enjoy.

The winning entry comes from Peter Slonek and Marcia Heeter, of Wilmette. The couple will receive a dozen roses from our friends at Morning Glory Flower Shop, 1135 Central Ave., Wilmette. They have also won a $50 gift certificate from longtime partner, Depot Nuevo, 1139 Wilmette Ave., Wilmette. Thanks so much to these great local businesses for helping us out and congratulations to the winning couple.

Here is their entry:

In January 2003 Marcia, a long-time resident of Wilmette, and I, living in a small town in northern Utah, signed up for a one-week workshop to be held at a retreat center in the mountains above Lima, Peru. It was titled “The Eagle Meets the Condor” and was sponsored by the Dances of Universal Peace, an international organization which we both belonged to. The participants turned out to be a lively crowd of about 30 aspiring dance leaders from North and South America. From the beginning Marcia, and I found each other ‘simpatico.’ We had frequent personal conversations, sat next to each other at meals and on the third day ended up doing kitchen duty, helping our Peruvian cooks. I had become more curious when I saw Marcia’s home town listed as Wilmette. This name had appeared in my life once before. I grew up in Austria. In high school, after World War II, we were encouraged to sign up for a pen pal in the US to practice our English. I ended up with Jean in Wilmette. I never met Jean, although I made an attempt when I passed through Chicago years later, when I first came to the US as a student. 

On the bus taking us back to Lima at the end of the week Marcia and I sat together. After a group dinner out we shared a taxi to the airport with other dancers headed home. I was meeting a friend who would join me on my coveted trip to Machu Pichu. As the group disappeared into the crowd, Marcia turned around and, saying goodbye, gave me a very quick kiss. 

Later, from home, I contacted Marcia and asked if she could share some photos of the workshop, since my camera had been stolen early on in my Peru adventure. After several emails I asked, very casually, if that kiss at the Lima airport had had any deeper meaning. The answer was affirmative and led to increasingly flirtatious emails which climaxed in a rendezvous in San Francisco, while visiting our daughters there. Later we explored each other’s homes and found a perfect match in our lives’ passions.  Soon after we decided to get married. And did so at Lake Street Church in Evanston. We celebrated our 15 wedding anniversary on Feb. 6 of this year.