Thursday, May 3, 2012

The Miles family lost a rare jewel over Easter weekend.....
Big Daddy Ron's grandmother Bea passed away on ther 100th birthday weekend.
I loved sitting and listening to her stories over the last 12 years... oh the things those eyes have seen in a century of living....  I was given the task of creating & delivering her eulogy for her memorial....

Beatrice Miles was born April 8th, 1912 outside of Hallsville, (Harrison County) Texas to Frank Walker and Mary Jane (Helton) Walker. She was the 3rd of 10 children (1st born child of 7 of this union). Mary Jane brought a son Elzie and daughter Bessie Lee to her marriage to Frank Walker. Together they then had Beatrice, Gladys, Mildred, Gertrude, Bernice, Bonnie Cleo, Frank Jr. and Herman.

Bea’s large and diverse family could boast that they were the first African American family in the Hallsville/Marshall area to own a car! They were a family full of uniquely talented musicians, barbers, teachers, cooks and seamstresses.

After the tragic loss of her mother at age 10 ½, Beatrice left school to care for the 7 younger siblings while their father worked. She acquired the domestic life skills that would carry her through the rest of her many and varied working careers

To quote Thomas Edison,
“Opportunity is missed by most people because it is dressed in overalls and looks like work”

That was never the case with Beatrice…Opportunity was rarely missed and she was never a woman to shy away from hard work. Beatrice wore many hats growing up. She could butcher a hog, pick cotton, work in the fields, bake a cake, rock a baby and sew a dress- all in a day’s work.

She met and married John L. “Jack” Miles of Kilgore, Texas in April of 1930, (that marriage dissolved in 1949). They lived in a number of towns in the Harrison County area over the years including Hallsville, Marshall, Jefferson, Port Arthur, Philips and Borger to name a few. They had only one son together, John Leonard Miles Jr.

John-L was the light of her life and Bea worked hard to help produce a successful son on every level and assure that he received a proper education. And successful he was! John-L was the first African American student to graduate High School in Borger, TX. He went on to earn a B.A. at Bishop College in Marshall, TX and an MBA at Seattle University (Seattle, WA). He went on to teach and mentor inner-city youth as an administrator for the Seattle Public Schools for over 35 years.

As an adult and well past retirement age, Bea worked for nearly 4 decades for the L.R. “Babe” Spradling family of the Spradling Drilling Co. She was the head of domestic greatness for the Spradling family, overseeing all of the daily domestic operations and helping to raise two generations of their children.

Bea was always very generous and an extremely private woman. She was known to cook all night for her church and community but would refuse to accept recognition. She would rarely, if ever let a photo be taken of her. ( I was thrilled that she agreed to let me take the one above- and that... took months of begging)

Bea managed to create admirable success on little more than life skills and a 3rd grade education. She has always been an inspiration to those around her.

Bea was known to say, “It’s not how much you make or have in life - it’s how you manage it.”

She moved to Bellevue, WA in May of 2000 to be closer to her only son John-L and his family.

Bea is survived by her daughter-in-law Estella Miles, Grandsons John L. Miles III and Ronald G. Miles, Granddaughter Wanda E Miles, Great-Granddaughters Onika, Kendyl, Gabrielle and Kiana Miles all of the Greater Seattle area.

Bea’s storytelling and her famous sweet potato pies will be greatly missed.

Give 'em Hell G'ma... xoxo

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