When Raymond and Clara Bradbury walked down the aisle on Nov. 28, 1951, an old friend reminded them of something Clara said years before: “I’m going to date a lot and have a real good time, but when I settle down I’m going to marry somebody like Ray Bradbury.”
The Bradburys live in Plantation Estates in Matthews and recently celebrated their 61st anniversary with a vow renewal ceremony orchestrated by their daughter, Barbara. It was the second time the couple have renewed their vows.
In honor of Valentine’s Day, the retirement community urged the couple to share their love story with Matthews-Mint Hill Weekly.
‘Still cares for me’
The two grew up in the coal-mining town of Wheelwright, Ky., an industry where Raymond worked for 23 years until he retired 21 years ago.
Raymond moved to Wheelwright when he was 13 years old and met Clara soon after. They became instant friends, the couple says, and kept in contact when Raymond left to finish high school in Virginia at the start of World War II.
Years later, while Clara and Raymond were home for Christmas vacation during their time in college, Clara called Raymond to see if he wanted to be her partner for a card game.
After that night, the two were inseparable.
“I said ‘Ray would you like to come up and be my partner for some cards?’ I was still holding the phone when the doorbell rang he got up the hill so quick,” Clara said. “His father said he knew something good had happened for Raymond during that card game because he was singing in the shower.”
After dating for almost a year, Raymond proposed over Thanksgiving weekend in 1950 before leaving to join the U.S. Air Force, where he served during the Korean War.
After retiring, Raymond wanted to give his wife a life she never had living in the small coal mining towns of Kentucky.
“When he retired he said, ‘Clara you’ve not always been able to live in exciting places, and now I’m going to show you as much of the world as I can,’” Clara said.
So the Bradburys traveled the world – taking 17 oversees trips in 16 years, in addition to many trips throughout the United States. The couple has taken two cross-country trips, once across the southern U.S. and once through the North.
They moved to Matthews in 2009 to be closer to their daughter, who lives in south Charlotte. The couple also has a son, Philip, three grandchildren and two great grandchildren.
After 61 years, Raymond still defines their marriage as “loving and trusting.”
And Clara says her husband still treats her with the same love and affection he did when they met.
“He still opens my door,” Clara said. “He still cares for me. And he still buys me jewelry without me even asking for it.”