BY BRUCE BRANUM
The Greenville Standard
Robert (Bob) Samuel and Ceola Bennett have been officially married 70 years as of Dec. 28, 2018. The actual number they count is 73 because a cousin, Seth Williams, gave them marriage vows three years before their official marriage license.
Bob then joined the army and when he returned he and Ceola were officially married on Dec. 28, 1948.
Bob was born in 1927; Ceola was born in 1931, and both are still spry at the ages of 91 and 87. Originally Ceola celebrated her birthday on Feb. 17 until a year after they were married the couple found from a birth certificate she was actually born of Feb. 2. A mid-wife helped her to deliver her and did not put her name on the birth certificate.
Bob recounted the story of how he and Ceola met was through his cousin Seth Williams. He said initially it was hard for him to find a local girl he was not related to until Seth introduced him to Ceola.
They dated a few times and Bob said he was going to marry her.
After returning from his military service Bob approached Ceola’s father and said they were going to get married. At first, her father wasn’t sure but Bob said Ceola was of age and they were going to get married, which they did on the front porch of the Provo house near St. Francis Church. David Bennett married them.
Bob said, “There was bunch of folk surrounding the porch and lined up along the road and we got hooked.”
“Give and take,” Bob added was the secret to a long marriage along with praying together and agreeing on things. “If you don’t agree on things then you take and let things go. When you got something bothering you, just hold it and let it pass.”
Patience, in essence, is the key to their success of a long and happy marriage.
One of the keys to the success of relationships and also the nation in general Bob added was to have “mother wits.” “If you don’t have mother wits, then you are lost,” he said and added, “You have to have strong family bonds.”
Bob was the first African American rural route carrier in Butler County. Bob delivered mail to welcoming families and businesses for nearly 29 years in the Greenville and Forest Home area.
Bob and Ceola had six children together, all of which are still living: Bobbie Jean (Jesse) Humphrey, Carlos (Karen-deceased) Bennett, Florene (Lieutenant Colonel James) Walker, Christine Bennett, Robert Fernadez (Regina) Bennett, and Mary (Herbert) Peagler.
Bob and Ceola reside in the Mt. Zion Community outside of Greenville and are members of the Mt. Zion Missionary Baptist Church.