If you asked 10 people what the secret is to maintaining a long-term love affair and marriage, it’s possible you would get 10 different answers. But for Yvonne and Bernard King, Sr., there is only one answer — love.
The couple recently celebrated over 50 years of marital bliss last month and wanted to share their insight and personal experience with other couples for Valentine’s Day.
Two suggestions they both found important when considering marriage are to make sure that both people are attracted to each other and both people understand the importance of staying together.
For maintaining a happy marriage, Yvonne said that good communication is a must, and Bernard quipped: “It’s cheaper to keep her.”
All joking aside, Bernard believes what has kept them together all these years is teamwork, cohesiveness and of course love.
The happy couple has shared unconditional love since the 1950’s when they first met at Florida Agricultural and Mechanical University (FAMU). They were both sophomores when they joined a service fraternity and sorority. They met at one of the general meetings along with other life-long friends, Charley and Frances Williams, with whom they still maintain a close relationship.
“At that particular time I could say that it was love at first sight perhaps,” said Bernard. She was an excellent dancer. She was cute, intelligent and dressed nice.”
Yvonne saw the practical side of Bernard in the sense of him being a good provider for her and subsequently their three children. They have one granddaughter and one grandson too.
“He was dependable, intelligent and a good singer and dancer,” Yvonne stated. “I figured that he would make me a good husband. And, oh yeah, he has met that objective over the years.”
After graduating college, they both moved to St. Petersburg to start their life together. Yvonne an early education teacher and Bernard an industrial arts major, the two carved a life out together.
Yvonne describes herself as a God fearing woman who enjoys singing, dancing and baking cakes. She performs community service through her sorority — Zeta Phi Beta, Inc. and Links, Inc., a national community service organization.
A life-long member of Bethel African Methodist Episcopal Church, Yvonne sings in the choir, serves as financial secretary for the Lay organization and is a member of the Women Missionary Society.
Bernard is also a lifelong member of Bethel AME where he sings in the mass and the male choirs. He serves on the Board of Trustees and is a member of the Sons of Allen auxiliary. He is a member of Kappa Alpha Psi, Inc. fraternity and works part-time at Pinellas Technical Education Center as an adjunct teacher in building construction and serves as a part-time mentor for many of the students.
Part of their longevity is contributing together to the community’s development. “My love of children is my greatest contribution to community development,” Yvonne stated.
Yvonne was a teacher with the Pinellas County School District (PCSD) for 30 years. She taught elementary education at several schools in the district. One of her students has his own lawn service and cuts the King’s lawn. Another student is a master plumber and plumbing instructor. Others are politicians such as mayor of Tarpon Springs David Archie and other professionals.
Bernard worked and retired from PCSD after 30 years and brags that his ex-students are doctors, principals, provosts of colleges, lawyers and business owners. He bragged about his past student Kevin Gordon, who is currently the provost for St. Petersburg College.
“I feel we made a positive impact on the community and can pass the torch. We were effective in teaching and preparing our students to get the torch,” Bernard said. Anytime I go out to the mall or travel over the city I run into people and its very rewarding to hear how the students are doing and how successful they are. When you are a teacher you touch a lot of lives.”
Bernard feels that the black community has come a long way, but still has a long way to go. There are a lot more avenues available to people than when he came up. “All you need is some training and you can be anything you want to be. Being black is not a big deal like it used to be. It used to be something used against us, but now being “black” is not holding you back, said Bernard.”
Yvonne adds that she just wants to see the community continue to grow, be prosperous and go further.
Currently Bernard plans to continue working part-time at PTEC and Yvonne is not planning on adding any new projects to her schedule. They both want to see other parts of the country and this world. They want to add more places to the list they have already seen: France, Hawaii, Montreal and Quebec, Canada and several places in the Caribbean.
Besides traveling, their plans for the future include spoiling their two grandchildren rotten.
So it seems that the formula to being in a long and happy marriage is being happy with oneself and working together for one common goal.
“Life is good and you should try to live it to the fullest. Live your dreams. I knew I was destined to be a builder as a child and I developed my skills and made it happen,” said Bernard.
“I always wanted to be a singer and dancer but back in my time you couldn’t go to those professional dancing schools. So I wound up being a teacher and that turned out to be a rewarding endeavor,” Yvonne said.