Couple celebrates 75th anniversary

Published 9:49 pm Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Elsie and Rollis Bailey celebrated their 75th wedding anniversary on Tuesday surrounded by family and fellow nursing home residents. They met while walking in a Portsmouth park and went on to have four children together.

Rollis and Elsie Bailey have been married for 75 years, and he still calls her his “Buttercup.”

The couple celebrated 75 years of marriage on Tuesday by sharing ice cream and punch with fellow residents at Autumn Care of Suffolk, where they have lived for the last year and a half. Some of their family members visited them earlier in the day.

“I was 14,” Elsie Bailey, now 93, said of when she met her husband. “We were walking in City Park in Portsmouth.”


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The couple dated off and on for three or four years before they married on May 1, 1937, their son Milton Bailey said.

The elder Bailey, who is two weeks shy of 95 years old, nicknamed his wife “Buttercup” early on.

“They still love each other,” he said. “They’ve loved each other the whole time.”

Bailey said his father worked at the shipyard and was a carpenter in his younger days. His mother was a homemaker and helped his grandmother grow flowers to sell at Bailey’s Florist at the Portsmouth city market.

They had four children — Joyce Whitley, Milton Bailey, Rollis Bailey Jr. and Vivian Parker. They now have 15 grandchildren and “20-some” great- and great-great-grandchildren, Milton Bailey said.

His mother moved into Autumn Care about a year and a half ago, he said. He bought his father a trailer and fixed it up for him to stay in. But there was one problem.

“He told me one day, ‘There ain’t no Buttercup in here,’” the younger Bailey said.

Soon after, the elder Bailey moved into Autumn Care with his wife. That was about 14 months ago.

“They seem to enjoy it there,” Bailey said. “They’re content as long as they’re together.”

Bailey said he believes his parents’ marriage is an example that the younger generation should follow.

“You marry for better or for worse, and you stay together,” he said.