Maurice and Shirley Kemp of Bellport are looking forward to...

Maurice and Shirley Kemp of Bellport are looking forward to celebrating their 50th anniversary with relatives. Credit: Kemp Family

Maurice Kemp of Bellport recalls how his landlady arranged for him to meet his future wife, Shirley (nee Carle).


I was born and raised in Portsmouth, Virginia. In 1965, I graduated from Norfolk State University with a bachelor of science degree in Public School Music Education, then enlisted in the Air Force and was stationed in the Philippines as a pianist in the U.S. Air Force Band. After an honorable discharge in late 1969, I started looking for teaching jobs in Virginia.

On one occasion I was flipping through the yellow pages and noticed an ad from a teacher’s placement agency. When I couldn’t get through to the number, I dialed the operator and learned that the agency was in Setauket, New York, which I had never heard of.

The operator asked if I was still interested in placing the call, and I said sure. The agency notified me that the Center Moriches School District was looking for a music teacher and wanted to know if I could be available to interview within a few days. I drove to Center Moriches, had the interview and was hired to start teaching in January 1970.

I joined the teachers’ bowling league, and at the end of the school year, the league held a celebration party at the now-closed Bavarian Inn in Lake Ronkonkoma. I did not have a date for the party, but my landlady arranged for Shirley, a young lady from church, to go with me.

When I went to Shirley’s home to meet her, it was a “Wow!” moment. For me it was love at first sight. I knew right away that I wanted to spend the rest of my life with her.

Maurice and Shirley Kemp of Bellport on their wedding day, June...

Maurice and Shirley Kemp of Bellport on their wedding day, June 24, 1972. Credit: Kemp Family

After our first date, I asked Shirley out to see “Lawrence of Arabia” at the movie theater in Patchogue. We dated for two years before marrying on June 24, 1972, at Ruth AME Zion Church in Bellport Village. We honeymooned at Shenandoah National Park in Virginia.

Shirley was born and raised in Bellport, and we settled on the block where she had grown up. Her parents, grandparents, uncles and aunts all lived on that block, and I got along with the whole family. We’ve lived in the same house our entire marriage. We own property in Virginia and consider that our second home.

I taught music for the Center Moriches School District for 30 years until retiring in 1998. I have also been the organist and minister of music at Christ Episcopal Church in Bellport and was a pianist at the Gateway Playhouse acting school in Bellport. I am in the chorus and a board member of the Long Island Symphonic Choral Association, and we perform Classical music locally and do international tours every couple of years.

Shirley has worked as a caregiver, and her kindness is unbounded. When my mother became ill and was no longer able to care for herself, she moved in with us, and Shirley took care of her. For that, I am forever grateful.

Shirley loves reading, is a movie buff and is talented in arts and crafts, and cooking. One of her greatest gifts is her love of family and friends. We have two wonderful children, a son and a daughter. We both love traveling and have visited almost 30 countries.

We plan to celebrate our 50th anniversary when some of our out-of-state relatives are able to join us. Even after 50 years, I keep asking myself, “What did I do to deserve such a blessing as to have Shirley as my wife and lifetime partner?”

 — With Laura Mann

Latest Videos

Newsday LogoCovering LI news as it happensDigital AccessOnly 25¢for 5 months