- Associated Press - Tuesday, February 25, 2014

PITTSBURGH (AP) - Though they have lived strikingly similar lives, two Baptist church deacons never met until recently.

Leroy Yuille and Luther Dupree live a few blocks apart in East Liberty. Each was born in the South into large families, moved to Pittsburgh as young men in search of a better life, settled, married and became involved in church.

And both recently turned 103 years old.

“He’s been around a few days, I’ve been around a few days,” Dupree deadpanned last week in his home, a worn Bible on his lap. “We had some things to talk about.”

Their meeting last month was arranged by the Rev. Darryl Canady, pastor of Rodman Street Missionary Baptist Church, where Yuille served for decades as deacon.

Canady met Dupree when he was invited to preach in Unity Baptist Church in Braddock, where Dupree attends services despite moving to East Liberty 50 years ago. Dupree, a deacon at Unity Baptist for decades, today is deacon emeritus.

“I wanted to get them together to get their perspectives,” Canady explained. “It was powerful. Just to see those two sitting next to each other - oh, man. . They lived through segregation in the South. They talked about perseverance, strength, the power of God. … It was just powerful, man. I will never be the same.”

Canady and family members are struck by the parallels in the men’s lives.

Dupree was born in Dillon, S.C., in November 1910. His family farmed cotton, tobacco, corn, wheat and other crops, Dupree said. He and 13 siblings never went without.

“My mother was the best cook you could find,” Dupree said. “She could make anything taste good. Anything.”

Yuille was born in Lawyers, Va., in October 1910, one of 10 children. Though his family was poor, Yuille found comfort in church from age 11.

“I had no reservations,” he said. “The Lord has kept me.”

Dupree moved north in the 1930s, shortly after marrying Gertrude, his wife of 62 years who died in 1999. He got a job at Westinghouse Electric, where he worked for 37 years. He and his wife had five children, four of whom are living; a daughter died at birth.

Yuille moved north in the late 1920s and soon met Lena, who would be his wife of 51 years until her death in 1994. He worked in the Homestead steel mill.

“I arrived at 3 p.m. on Sunday afternoon, and I had a job by 8 a.m. Monday morning,” he said.

Yuille and Deacon have lived near each other for a half-century, since Dupree moved his family from Braddock. Yet because Dupree continued worshipping at his old church in Braddock, the men did not meet.

They left lasting impressions upon their communities and within their families.

Dupree’s son, Luther Dupree, recalled going to his son’s house recently to watch an NBA playoff game. The score was close, the game was exciting, but when the time came for the family to bow heads for a prayer, the television was silenced.

“So many families don’t have traditions now,” the younger Dupree said. “That’s something he taught us. We still pray together now. It’s a gathering time, something that is very enjoyable. Traditions are very important to keep the family together.”

Yuille strived to keep his family on a straight line, recalled his niece, Annie Yuille.

“If you didn’t go to church, he’d come around asking where you were,” she said. “He taught us just by the way he lived his life.”

They have lived their lives in much the same way, by following the same basic rules.

“Just live your life to please God,” Yuille said. “That’s it. God has the key to everybody’s life.”

“And do right,” Dupree said. “Treat everybody right, and don’t do nothing bad. You’re happy all the time when you do right.”

___

Online:

https://bit.ly/1kanD1G

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