Couple Celebrates 70 Years of Marriage

Left to right: Bernice Embry enjoyed picking sunflowers with her granddaughter, Tamara Jones Bills, and her husband, Ulysses Embry, at Uncle John’s Cider Mill in St. Johns, MI.

Courtesy photo

LANSING, MI — Ulysses Embry and Bernice McClurkin, were united in holy matrimony on Saturday, March 17,1951, in Talladega, Alabama.

One day Ulysses was visiting his cousin Cora, who was married to Bernice’s sister’s brother-in-law. Well, Bernice just happened to be visiting her sister who lived across the hall. When she saw Ulysses, she was immediately attracted to him. She was not sure if he had noticed her at all but he had. Ulysses wrote a letter and gave it to Katie, Bernice’s sister.

Their granddaughter, Tammy Jones Bills said, “It was love at first sight!”

They courted for about 2 years before Ulysses asked for her hand in marriage. Bernice’s father said, “I will allow a man the same chance I had,” and he then gave his blessing.

Ulysses proposed, and Bernice said yes.
When they were married a neighbor told them that it was just puppy love and proclaimed that after six months they would not even know where each other were. That was over 70 years ago and the couple is still together.

As many Black families did, the Embrys moved north for better employment opportunities and to escape the oppression of the South.

In 1959, they moved to Michigan. Bernice was a stay at home mother and said she enjoyed every minute of caring for her family. Ulysses worked at General Motors for 40 years and then retired.

Over the years they have endured many ups and downs but credit their relationship with God as the foundation for 70 years of a successful life together in love, family, and adventures. They have 10 children, 14 grandchildren, 27 great- grandchildren and 7 great-great-grandchildren. They have been faithful members of the The Breadhouse, which was formerly Bethlehem Temple Church, for over 63 years.

When you ask them how they have stayed married so long they both said, “JESUS!”