Union City couple celebrating 79 years of marriage

A remarkable milestone was met on Monday as Oree and Lena McRae of Union City commemorate their 79th wedding anniversary. 

This enduring couple, captured in a photograph taken during their 75th anniversary celebration a few years ago, first crossed paths in high school in Arkansas. Their love story unfolded, leading to their marriage at the ages of 20 and 17 for Oree and Lena, respectively.

In addition to their anniversary, Oree is also eagerly anticipating his 100th birthday on June 26, while Lena will reach the age of 97 in October.

We sent our reporter Jesse Gary to find out the secret to their long and happy union. 

Oree and Lena have been side-by-side figuratively and literally for nearly eight decades. As we caught up with the couple they can be seen still professing their love for one another. 

In the Jim Crow days in the South, they met as teens; he caught her eye and her smile snared him. 

"Ooh, she was pretty! One of the best looking on the campus," said Oree. 

"I knew a lot about him," said Lena. When asked if he was nice, she said "I thought he was." We asked if he was handsome. "Yes," she said, stretching the word as if to emphasize his looks. 

Three years of courtship led to marriage by a justice of the peace. 

"When I first asked her to marry me, that's the woman I wanted to be with. And after we got married, we just stayed together. We stuck together all these years," said Oree. 

Soon thereafter, they departed Arkansas; first to Detroit for work as a spot welder and then in 1951, they relocated to the Bay Area. 

Came through that 100-degree heat and I came into San Francisco and guys had jackets on and I had short sleeves on and I'm enjoying this cold weather. And that sold me," Oree said. 

They lived in their Bayview San Francisco home for 30 years and for the last 30 years, they lived in Union City. 

They have six children, 25 grandchildren, 15 great-grandchildren and three great-great-grandchildren. 

They say their similar likes and bond in Christ has helped them create a large DNA cohort. 

"Ooh…I just enjoy this large family. Really, really, yes, yes, yes," said Oree. When asked if he'd do it all over again, Oree delivers and emphatic, "Yes sir." 

Both say they're so happy their decades together, the moves and milestones that have been made possible because long ago, they found a love that lasts.