Lem Long married Eddie Jeanetta Vaughn on Christmas Eve 1946.

Lem began his apprenticeship at McEwen Funeral home upon coming home from World War II, and he and Eddie, a graduate of Johnson C. Smith University, would eventually own and operate what is now Long and Son Mortuary Service in Charlotte.

Long and Son, which has been serving local families for more than 65 years, is one of the most successful older black businesses in Charlotte.

Eddie and Lem’s 66th anniversary was celebrated by more than 100 family members who gathered at the Mint Hill Lodge on December 22.

Descendants of Jackson Black (born 1820-30), including the names Black, Long, Little, Wentz, Nixon, and Firms, among others, celebrated this anniversary of the oldest living couple in their family: Lem, 91 and Eddie, 93.

Beverly Black helped to organize the event, assisted by cousin Brenda Sanders, bringing together the vast family to remember its history, and celebrate the lives of two of the family’s pillars.

“It’s nice to go back to your humble roots and remember where you came from,” Black said. “And recognize the older ones in the family who have done a lot of the ground work to help us get to where we are.”

Lem and Eddie had a hard road ahead of them as they started their businessča very successful businessčand made their mark in the community and especially within their family, setting an example of hard work and perseverance leading to success.

“He’s worked hard and set an example in the family of working hard to have a successful business and working hard to have a business despite your disadvantages,” said Black.

The event was unique in that the family discussed history, including how the family has come through some tough times, recognizing “different ones in the family who have come through civil rights, who have come through a lot of racism and a lot of injustice, but, you know, some of them are still here to tell their stories,” Black said.

The family also celebrated the oldest members among them, especially Lem and Eddie, who embody the hard work and dedication that it takes to put together a successful business and marriage, both that have lasted for more than half a century.

That work ethic and dedication are family traits, and they now include two female attorneys, one in Raleigh, and one with offices in Charlotte and Monroe.

“The family has never forgotten where we came from as far as our grandparents and great grandparents working hard in very limited fields,” Black said. “In the cotton fields and the crop fields as share croppers.”

The family, which has deep roots in Mint Hill, has grown and expanded, now spanning the East Coast.

“It’s a very huge, massive family,” Black said. “Folks have spread now from New York all the way to Atlanta Georgia, that we know of.”

With the ever-growing ranks of the family, Black hopes that this celebration can mark a move toward more regular family reunions, and some are currently in the works.

“Everybody’s families have grown so much, you know, in a way you kind of grow apart as time goes on and you get busy with your lives,” Black said. “But it was a very unique reuniončvery happy.”