Gertrude Powell Harris passed on March 10, 2020 at home after dawn.
Gertrude Powell Harris was born on September 6, 1933 to Lessie Downer Powell and Cecil Powell at Clarksdale, MS. She married Willie C. Harris on December 12, 1950 at Clarksdale, MS. He preceded her in death on April 16, 2019.
Spending her first eighteen years of life in Mississippi affected her in profound and simple ways. She loved and cherished the time with family and friends in a segregated community that encouraged and nurtured her dreams, especially her mother and Jeanes teachers in the local schools she attended. Dreams of a better life in the North spurred her and Willie*s decision to purchase tickets on the City of New Orleans and join thousands of others in Chicago, IL. They built a life that allowed them to enjoy a version of the American dream. Gertrude worked to ensure that her children could partake of her cherished dreams: education and professional occupations. She alternated between being a housewife and working various jobs, especially in candy companies. Her fondest work experience came after retirement when she worked security services for sporting events, theater performances, concerts, museums, and professional meetings.
She devoted herself to creating a home filled with love, laughter, nourishing food, kindness, generosity, and hospitality. She was her daughters* first teacher and taught them to read, value learning, and strive for academic excellence. She attended every concert, awards luncheon, ceremony, and graduation, proud that her daughters used the *five senses and a brain* God gave them. Most importantly, she taught them that education alone was not enough. She nurtured within them a strong faith in God, a sense of generosity, empathy, and a desire to help others.
Gertrude valued her marriage and was steadfast in her marriage vows and lived all that was implied within them. Neither was the same without the other. She and Willie would have celebrated 70 years of marriage in 2020. The Lord blessed their union.
Gertrude*s hobbies were gardening, traveling, reading, and solving word puzzles. She loved flowers and each year selected more of her favorites: geraniums, begonias, roses, pansies, and various others for her garden.
Her legacy lives on in conversations, gentle kisses, warm hugs, advice given, sense of humor, encouragement, and love. We know that she is happy to join her beloved parents, brothers, sisters, nieces, and nephews in the loving embrace of the Lord. Rest in Glory.
Survivors include daughters Violet J. Harris of Urbana, IL and Patricia R. Harris of Atlanta, GA; her brother Earl Powell of Chicago, IL; sisters-in-law Annie M. Hoskins and Annette Powell, Chicago, IL; brother-in-law Preston Jones, Sr.; and numerous cousins, nieces, nephews, and friends.
Gertrude was preceded in death by her parents, Lessie Downer Powell and Cecil Powell; husband, Willie C. Harris; daughter, Alma Jane Harris; sisters: Ruth Davis (Sidney), Bertha Warfield, Lessie Gardner (Odis), Eartha Gardner (Shiloh), and Earnestine Jones; brothers: Cecil Powell, Jr., Charles Powell, Mitchell Powell, and Sammie Powell; and nieces, nephews, aunts, uncles, and cousins.
A Homegoing Celebration will commence at 12:00 noon Thursday at Salem Baptist Church, 500 E. Park St., Champaign. The Rev. Claude Shelby Sr. will officiate. Burial will be in Woodlawn Cemeterey, Urbana. Visitation will be at 11 a.m. Thursday at the church. Leek & Sons Funeral Home, 304 E. Williams St., Danville, is in charge of arrangement
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