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Catherine E. Minnis

February 2, 1918 October 10, 2012
Catherine E. Minnis
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Obituary for Catherine E. Minnis

On the 10th day of October, in the year of our Lord, 2012, God was looking down from Heaven on all of his children and his eye fell on our beloved Mother, so He called on His angels to find her and bring her to her Heavenly rest.  Catherine Elizabeth Russell Minnis was born February 2, 1918 in Philadelphia, PA.  An only child, she was surely a blessing to her parents, the late Charles Russell and Elizabeth Tribbett-Russell.

She accepted God's hand at a tender age, joining her father's church, Pinn Memorial Baptist Church, while also attending her mother's church, Ward AME Church in Philadelphia, PA.

As a young child, Catherine displayed a talent for music and learned to play the piano.  This gift would follow her all the days of her life.  Catherine received her formal education through the Philadelphia School System graduating from West Philadelphia HS.  She continued her education at Temple University, where she majored in Music.

The gift of music led her to her husband of 51 years, the late Milton A. Minnis, who she met while playing for a spiritual singing group.  She was the pianist and he was a tenor.  The wonderful music they made together blessed them with 8 children, Charles, Sr.(Butch), Salahudeen(Milton,Chuckie), Frances, Eric(Saud), Vera, Catherine(Cathy), Dorothy(DeeDee) and Elizabeth(Pokey).

Coming of age during WWII, Catherine was employed by the US Government and the Philadelphia Naval Base.  In the 1960's, she became a crossing guard after 2 of her children were struck by a car while going to school.  During the 1970's, she became a school matron with the Philadelphia School District.  Her last employment was as a non-teaching assistant at University City HS, where she was affectionately known as "Grandma Dynamite".  But her most meaningful employment came through her gift of music.  She was blessed to be the organist or the pianist for many church choirs throughout the Philadelphia area, including Pinn Memorial Baptist Church, Bethel AME Church, in Lansdowne, PA, Mt. Olivet Tabernacle Baptist Church , Bethany Baptist Church, Concord Baptist Church, Our Mother of Sorrows Roman Catholic Church where she formed the 1st African American gospel choir in a catholic church and her beloved Fellowship Christian Church where she was called and ordained as an Elder of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ), she served faithfully as Minister of Music retiring at the age of 90.

At a tender age, Catherine understood God's lessons about the brilliance of light and the beauty of love, about the plan and purpose that He had for her life.  Her loved for God's people and God's Word, called her to activism, both religious and social.  In the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) and in the United Church of Christ denominations, her participation in the Christian Equality Movement helped open the doors of their ministry to women of color.

In the realm of social justice, Catherine was a blessing.  As a young adult, she protested for jobs and education on Lancaster Avenue.  In her middle years, she marched around walls of segregation until they came tumbling down.  She co-founded Habitat for Humanity, West Philadelphia to rehabilitate the houses on her block; founded the Cathedral Park Association, to fight for her neighborhood, took kids to camp, started after school programs and encouraged people to be the best that they could be.  In her later years, she encouraged the development of Park West Town Center in West Philadelphia.

In the area of politics, she served as the Democratic committee person for the 44th Ward, where she helped to elect Mayors, Councilpersons, State Representatives, Congressmen, Governors and even Presidents.

As an only child, she was blessed to find solace and sisterhood in a group of women and 1 man who called themselves the Lucky 10 Social Club, aka Love and Trust Choir.  So special was this group that they were recognized by the Smithsonian Institute as 1 of the oldest African American Social Clubs in America.

Catherine did all of this and still found time to pray for, love and nurture her family.  She instilled hope and encouraged the dreams of her children, their spouses and her grandchildren.  Her life force also inspired many of those who looked fondly upon her as mother, just as she looked upon them as her children.  She was also an inspiration to her nieces and nephews, her friends, and neighbors on Stiles Street, her community and her church.

Besides her beloved children, she leaves to celebrate her life: 3 daughtes-in-law, Deanna, Safia and Aliyah; son-in-law, Billy; special son, Michael Grey; grandchildren, Leslie, Shaye, Naima, Charles, Jr., Adnan, Leilah, Jessica and Fafjr; great-grandchildren, Jose, Bianca, Samira, Nico, Elyse-Marie, Reynaldo, Nasira, Nisaa, Zabra and Shuaib; her many loving nieces and nephews; her Fellowship family; her Stiles Street family and the Cathedral Park Community.

There will be a viewing on Thursday, October 18, 2012 from 9 to 11am at Fellowship Christian Church - 6101 West Oxford Street.  Funeral service will start at 11am. Final resting place to conclude at Eden Cemetery in Collingdale, PA.

To send flowers in memory of Catherine E. Minnis, visit the Tribute Store.


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