Three months dating leads to 50 years of romance

By Dennis Minich

Anyone involved in civic groups in the central Cass County area has likely ran across Toni Wiseman. She serves on the board of directors and foundation at Cass Regional Medical Center, she is a board member of the Cass County Council on Aging, the treasurer of the Peculiar Chamber of Commerce and a board member of the Cass County Coalition of Chambers. But long before getting involved in any of these groups, Wiseman was part of another group, her family.

She and her husband, Sonny, celebrated their 50th wedding July 4. When they married, Sonny had five children and Toni had three.

At the time of their meeting, Toni worked for a window company in Kansas City’s East Bottoms, very close to the Arkansas Best Freight Company where Sonny was a driver. When not working, Toni was involved in groups in the East Bottoms and part of her chores were to collect news items at various businesses. In March 1970, she went to collect news at Ban’s Tavern and that’s where she met Sonny.

“I went in to pick up news and he happened to be sitting there. The bartender introduced him to me, we sat and chatted and when I told him I had to go and he invited me out,” Toni said.

Sonny noted he was smitten when they first met.

“I liked her friendliness, good looks and she was well built. I knew it right away and it didn’t take too long to convince her because we got married in July. We’ve loved each other since the beginning,” he said. Their first date was to an Italian restaurant and after that date, Toni said she knew she had found Mr. Right.

“I think I knew after the first date. We had a lot in common, both family oriented and had kids and we both came from the Northeast area of Kansas City. We went to the same schools and theater, but it was 10 years apart. We also both attended the Jackson Avenue Christian Church.

“He was handsome. I have pictures and he looked like Frank Sinatra. He was funny and I liked how he interacted with his kids and friends,” Toni said.

Through the years, family was always important. Toni said there were usually at least four of the children living at home. Sonny said the commitment to family hasn’t changed.

“We still celebrate all of our kids’ birthdays. And we talk to them quite a bit, at least once a week. We also both got along with our exes really well, so we never really had any problems in that respect,” Sonny said.

Most of the children stayed close to home.

Sonny’s children, are Ron Wiseman of Peculiar; Don and Joanne Wiseman of Independence; Sandra Wiseman, of Aurora, Colorado; Patrick Wiseman, Raymore; and Angie and Gary Highland of North Kansas City. Toni’s children are Christine Sain of Urich; Brett Carroll of Independence; and Rhonda Verdic, who died in 2014.

Sonny and Toni both retired in the mid-90s and looked to move out of Kansas City.

“We knew we were going to retire and we looked at several places like Odessa, Oak Grove, Drexel and others. It took us two years to decide, but we ended up in Peculiar. They lived there 19 years before moving to Harrisonville in 2013.Toni was always active in various causes and Sonny was actively involved with the Shriners. The two still spent a lot of time together.

Toni said traveling is a favorite for both of them.

“Up until eight to 10 years ago, we traveled all over. We did a lot of it. We love Savanah, Georgia, it’s a flat San Francisco and we love San Francisco. We went to Texas at least once a year. One year I had my toes in just about every body of water, including Lake Superior, the Gulf of Mexico, the Atlantic and Pacific oceans,” she said.

Although they have given up traveling for the most part, they still like getting out, mostly to go out to eat.

The key to their relationship has been pretty simple. According to Toni, “We compromise, we just love each other and that’s what gets us through. We have problems, but when we do, we can talk and figure things out.”

Sonny’s take was even simpler, “We still hug and kiss every morning.”


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