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Freddie Mae Washington

Obituary
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Freddie Mae Washington was one of Henderson's most successful black business women. She was truly a self-made woman. But she was also a mother, grandmother, comforter, confidant and a role model. Born on Oct. 1, 1932, in Henderson, Texas, to the late Fred and Hannah Brown, Freddie experienced the brutality of racial discrimination of the time. But she also absorbed the unshakable faith and values of the traditional African-American family, community and culture. Freddie grew up on the family farm where she and her late sister, Inez Nell Brown, helped out with the daily tasks of farm life. Her favorite thing to do was to go over to her Grandma Geoffrey's and have peas and corn bread, sit on the front porch and play with her cousins. In 1963, Mrs. Washington married her husband, the late great horseman, Booker T. Washington. As a youth, she attended Union Chapel CME Church, which is now called New Community CME Church. She attended school at Pine Top Elementary and later London Colored School where she graduated in 1951. On Sept. 15, 1951, she began her career as a mortician at Commonwealth Mortuary School in Houston, Texas, where she received an associates of applied science degree and license for embalming and funeral directing. In August of 1952, she started working for Southern Funeral Home at 600 Brown St. in Henderson, while concurrently attending Henderson Business College. At that time, Southern Funeral Home was owned by Pierce- Moss Funeral Home of Tyler, Texas. Mrs. Washington worked harder than she had ever worked before, jumping up in the middle of the night and all times of the day to go embalm for Mr. Moss (owner of Southern Funeral Home at the time). All of her hard work paid off in 1975 when she finally saved up enough money to purchase and become the sole owner of Southern Funeral Home and its new facility at the current 604 Wilson St. In 1961, Mrs. Washington opened her home and her heart to a tiny baby girl named Virginia Sue that she raised and trained to run her business. Mrs. Washington has been through and witnessed many life-changing and historical events. In her lifetime, she has been witness to: the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., President John F. Kennedy and activist Medgar Evers. She witnessed the pain of segregation and the opposition to integration. She felt the unity and strength in the Montgomery Bus Boycott, the "I Have a Dream" speech, and the March on Washington in 1963. She was mourning with the world when the news of four little girls being killed in a church bombing by a racist reached the community. She was sitting at home when she heard the blast at New London High School that killed students and teachers alike, including two children from the Mills family, who were her next door neighbors. She saw mothers and wives grasping at their husbands and sons as they went away to World War II, the Korean War, the Vietnam War, the Bay of Pigs Invasion, the Persian Gulf War, the invasion of Afghanistan and our current invasion of Iraq. She witnessed the pulse of one million men marching on Washington during the Million Man March. And in her lifetime, when black people were only allowed in the back door and only good enough to shine shoes, in 2008, she cast her vote for America's first black president. Death has been a part of life since the day we were all born, and for many people, Freddie Mae was that shoulder to cry on and that ear to listen. She had been there to lay so many people to rest, including her own family. During her career as a funeral director and business woman, she assisted many young people on their way to success: Alton Pryor, Chuck Pryor, the Rev. Carlos Whitaker, Faye Walker, the Rev. Michael Bill, Leroy Frances and many others. Freddie leaves to cherish her memories her daughter, Virginia Sue Rainer; her son-in-law, Michael B. Rainer Sr.; her granddaughter, Chasaty D. Rainer; and grandson, Michael B. Rainer. In all of her years of work and gaining wisdom with age, her advice to young men and women everywhere was to follow your dreams and don't let nobody tell you that you can't do it. Funeral service for Mrs. Washington will be at 2:30 p.m. Saturday, April 20, 2013, at Booker's Dude Ranch in Henderson with Elder Darryl Madlock presenting the eulogy. Burial will follow in Rusk County Memorial Gardens in Timpson. Mrs. Washington passed away Sunday, April 14, 2013. She was born Oct. 1, 1932, in Henderson. Visitation will be from 1 to 8 p.m. Friday, April 19, 2013, at Southern Funeral Home, 604 Wilson St., Henderson, Texas. Sadler Funeral Service.
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Published in The Daily Sentinel on Apr. 19, 2013
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