“Unto us a daughter was born” Those were the words spoken by Marcus H Whitfield, Sr. and Lula Belle Smith Whitfield on June 1, 1925 when Mary Belle Whitfield entered this world. Little did they know how Almighty God would use their precious vessel. Mary Belle was the eldest of her two siblings, Mildred Anne and Dr. Marcus H. Jr. (deceased) born to Marcus and Lula Bell. “Tee “Bell” is what most of us called her. Mary was a strong believer in staying connected with family members. At a very early age she learned that she had five additional younger brothers from her father’s second marriage; Samuel, Ivory (deceased), Howard (deceased), Joseph and Edwin (deceased).
She received her early and secondary education in the Jackson, MS “Public School System. After high school, she furthered her education at Jackson State College where she completed a Bachelor’s Degree in Elementary Education, a Masters in Elementary Education and completed course work towards a Specialist degree in Early Childhood.
In September of 1947, she married Johnnie W. Hester, who preceded her in death. They celebrated 50 plus years of marital bliss before he went home to be with the lord. Mary worked as a first grade teacher in the Jackson Public School System for 35 plus years before she retired. After retirement, Mary continued serving in her church and community.
She was a life-long member of College Hill Missionary Baptist Church. She served faithfully as Depart-mental Superintendent of the Beginners Sunday School Department, Music Coordinator of the Sunday School, Secretary of the Sunday Workers’ Council, Member of the Sunday School Teachers’ Board, Vice President and President of the Pastor’s Aid Ministry, Member of the Sanctuary Circle Number five, Women’s Day Program Planning Committee Chair 1975, 1976, and 1987. In 1979, she served as Woman’s Day Speaker. Her subject was “God wants a woman who is not afraid to tackle the impossible”.
Mary served the community in various capacities. As a member of Zeta Phi Beta Sorority, Incorporated since 1955, she utilized her skills and knowledge for the success of sorority projects in the community and abroad. She held the following offices in Zeta Phi Beta Sorority, Incorporated including First Anti Basileus; Basileus; Dean of Pledges; Chair of finer Womanhood Committee; Chair of Blue Revue 1984, 1986, (Annual Debutante Presentation); Host Chair of State Meeting of Zeta Phi Beta Sorority in Jackson, MS; Member of the Zeta Phi Beta Rational Dominating Committee.
The highlight of Mary’s tenure as Basileus (President) of Zeta Phi Beta Sorority, Incorporated, was the purchase of a Zeta Phi Beta Sorority House in Jackson, MS. She was proud that at the time of the purchase this was the only historically Black Greek Letter Organization with the distinction of house ownership in Jackson, MS.
Mary was the recipient of numerous awards including Alpha Delta Zeta Chapter Award – 20 years of service 1982; Outstanding Dedicated Service and Certificate of Appreciation from Zeta Phi Beta Sorority, Inc.; Zeta of the Tear Personality of South Mississippi; Sigma Beta club lifetime Achievement Award; College Hill Missionary “Baptist Church Christian Education Ministry Service Award.
In addition to her numerous achievements, serving in her church and sorority, Mary held memberships in the following organizations: Rational Council of Negro Women, Walton Elementary School Teachers club; Phi Delta Kappa Educational fraternity; Mentor for young girls; Retired Teachers Choir of Jackson.
Mary’s personality never allowed her to meet strangers. Everyone who met her for the first time left with the feeling that they had known her for a lifetime. Not only did she open her home to everyone, she opened her heart. There was nothing too great or too small for her to accomplish. She was a devoted wife, mother, grandmother, and the best “Auntie” in the whole world.
After 86 years of faithful service, the Potter called his precious vessel home on May 22, 2012 at 11:02 am at Baptist Hospital in Jackson, MS. Many will cherish her memory for years to come. She is survived by one adopted son Johnny Terry Hester; one grand-daughter, Stephanie Smith; two great-grandchildren, Keyatte and Kaniyah Smith; one sister Mildred A. Lewis of St. Louis, MO., two brothers Samuel D.. Whitfield (Dorothy) and Joseph Whitfield (Betty) both of Detroit, MI; her daughter-niece Onzell J. Tatty (William) also of Detroit, MI; her nephew-son Lonnie Trotter of Buffalo, NY and a host of nieces, nephews, other relatives, and friends.
Interment, Garden Memorial cemetery, Highway 49 North, Jackson, MS
Services Entrusted to Westhaven Memorial Funeral Home, 3580 Robinson St, Jackson, MS 39209
- Marcuselle Whitfield (whitfieldfamilyblog.wordpress.com)