- About Us
- About Us
Mary L MeadowsNovember 10, 2017
MARY LOUISE MEADOWS was born in Buffalo, NY; she was the baby child of Vanless Byrd and Viola Burnett ( Jones). She was adored by her siblings, Van, Evelyn and Doris. Her father and mother were both born in Williamsburg, VA and migrated North during the Great Migration of the 1920’s. They purchased a home at 390 Hickory Street. There she grew up next to some of her oldest friends, including the Coles family. She attended Public School 47 and went on to Hutchinson Central Technical High School where she graduated with honors.
She was raised in the Lincoln Memorial United Methodist Church community. She fondly spoke of the years spent playing with the other children around her and especially her love for the Pastor’s wife, Mrs. Horner. It was there she participated in plays and learned to play the piano. Our mom often spoke of the lean years but how they lacked nothing because of their wonderful home life. Her Dad was a graduate of Hampton (University) Normal for Coloreds and Indians and her mom graduated from Virginia (State University) Normal. They were both loving & kind. Their home became the place for the many large family gatherings held several times a year. They shared the home for many years with the Livingston family before occupying all four floors and the cottage in the rear. She loved her parents and she, Van, Evie and Doris lovingly cared for them until their passing.
Mary, attended and graduated with honors from E.J. Meyer School of Nursing. She became a Registered Nurse and was among the first African American women to graduate from the school. We remember her friends Queenie and Eva from our childhood. She worked for E.J. Meyer Hospital and advanced to an Operating Room nurse at Deaconess where she fought against racism and discrimination in many forms. Always one to struggle and compete in unfair systems, she finally finished her career at Erie County Community College as the School nurse. She was the first African American nurse in the ECC system working for 25 years under the administration of Oscar Smuckler. She would often say “working at ECC was like dying and going to heaven!” She found great joy in mentoring and caring for the many students of ECC. She had many friends and close “girlfriends” including, Joy+, Celeste, Barb, Verlaine, Gloria, Annette+, Sharon and she found great joy in working with her lifelong friend, Helen Brooks and her successor Maryetta Dubois. These women filled her days with travel, shopping, joy, mischief and laughter.
In 1962, Mary joined the St. Phillip’s Episcopal Church where she served faithfully in several capacities; namely, the St. Phillip’s Community Center, Vestry, ECS Board, Sr. & Jr. Wardens, Choir, Gospel Choir, Education and Endowment Committees, Lay Eucharistic Minister and Sunday School, as well as a volunteer of the office staff. Her many life-long friendships and relationships were formed at the church. She loved the challenges of serving in an urban church and allowed the church to help raise her three children and many grandchildren. She also loved the Buffalo community, serving as Nurse to the Camp Fire Girls, Girl Scouts, American Lung Association and MS Association. She received may award & citations.
It was around 1972, that she met and fell in love with Milton T. Houston (plumber), her travel companion and dear friend. He was a part of our lives until his passing. They traveled the world together and participated in many Shriner and Masonic events. They both had a love for light green automobiles and home cooked meals. She really loved her some Milton T. and he loved her too! She also shared a wonderful relationship with her in-laws; the late, Huby & Mable Meadows.
She served with her friend, Constance Eve, where she sat on the board of Directors for “Women for Human Rights and Dignity”. She worked and volunteered with the many projects of Constance and Arthur Eve. We fondly remember working on all campaigns and events going back to the first campaign for NY State Assembly. She loved all of their children as her own and was God mother to Eric Eve.
Mary was a courageous warrior against breast cancer as she shared her own survivorship story with thousands while working for The Witness Project of Buffalo NY. In 2009 Mary helped to design and implement a national genetic breast cancer study called “The Jewels In Our Genes”, An African American Family Study whose results were very successful and are still expanding today.
Mary was married to the late Richard Dean, Sr., they have three children, Tonie, Marie, Richard (Rickey) and Veronica (Ronnie). She loved nurtured and cared for her children, with great joy. She provided the support and love that a mother could give with all her heart. She spent all of her free time, with school, church, camp, ball games, concerts, attending plays and cheering us on. We never felt as though there was anything we could not do because of her love. She has stood with us through some of the toughest decisions we’ve ever made; to standing with us in the storms of life, through it all, our Mary Byrd was there. She loved us all equally, and we still argue over whom she loved most. She sacrificed her life for us and many others. When the grandchildren were born, she made sure she was in their lives from the beginning, sponsoring their showers and helping with the celebration of each year of their lives. She adored Courtney+ and when he died she felt as though she had lost a son.
She was strong woman who ministered to us all and helped us find a way to make it through. She loved her grandchildren, and they loved their Granny Byrd. She has made an impact on all of them, Torriano, Michael, Mary, Taylor and Jaycina. She spent many days, taking them to parks, for ice cream, vacations, and theater.
From Jay: My Granny Byrd, the sweetest lady I knew. She exuded class and grace and she cared about everyone especially her family. My granny was filled with love. I would never forget the memories we created together, the stories she told, and how she always smelled of Skin So Soft and Oil of Olay! I love my grandma and wouldn’t trade her for anything. I knew this time would come one day, but I didn’t think it would come so soon. Dementia took you away but Heaven gained and angel today. Rest Peacefully Granny Byrd.
From Taylor: To the most beautiful girl in the world . It hurts to have write this goodbye but it’s only for a little while . I never got to tell you . But that one summer that I was “stuck” with you I wouldn’t have traded it for the world . From bridge club on Wednesdays , countless hours at St Phillips , sneaking homemade popcorn in a zip lock bag into the movies, and oh how could I forget watching “Judge Judy” until we got sleepy. I sometime wonder why you couldn’t stay just a little longer but I guess that’s between you and our Heavenly Father and as you would say “I got a good chance to stay out it” I know you are much happier visiting with those we love and miss so much . I thank you for being the best grandmother. I thank you for being you .Your love is truly unforgettable. Unforgettable that’s what you are. I love you Mary Byrd . I will cherish our memories . I celebrate your life until we meet again my queen.
From Mary: I have lost my most precious jewel, but God has certainly gained an angel. Granny Byrd was the best grandmother any child could wish for! She made sure my siblings and I had the best of the best, nothing less. When I️ first learned of her diagnoses of Alzheimer’s, my heart was so heavy and I️ feared that she would forget me. However, she proved me wrong. I returned to Buffalo for a visit and I walked into my Aunt Ronnie’s home and Ronnie says, “Hey Mommy, you have a visitor”! Granny Byrd turned and looked at me with a smile and said “hey, it’s one of my daughters”. We sat and talked, watched T.V and read a magazine. My heart was so full of joy and so grateful to be in her presence. I️ am honored to be named after a woman who is the epitome of elegance. “Sister Jones” I️ thank you for the many lessons you taught me, the stories you told, and the things you instilled in me. Love you always, Mary Mary
Mary has a large and loving family. Her Godly heritage included, her children; Toni, Veronica (Willie), Richard (Linda), her siblings; Vanless+ (Lorraine), Evelyn+ (Carl+), and Doris+ (Lethardis), her grandchildren; Torriano, Michael, Courtney+, Mary, Taylor & Jaycina, five great-grandchildren; Torriana, Tianna, Courtney, Aubrie & Torriano,II, Her nieces & nephews; Melanie, Rasheed, (Nyjayeh), Kamilah (Mousa), Debbie+, Douglas ( Janice), Malik, Charles+ (Lillian), Venetia+, Brenda, Cheryl (Milton), Denise+, Mytchell, Edythe, Peter, Paul, Susan (Dennis), Patrick and Sydney Ann and a host of other relatives and countless friends.
Faith is a Mighty Fortress
(The following poem was written by Helen Steiner Rice)
We look ahead through each changing year
With mixed emotions of hope and fear —
Hope for the peace we long have sought,
Fear that our hopes will come to naught.
Unwilling to trust in the Father’s will,
We count on our logic and shallow skill,
And in our arrogance and pride,
We are no longer satisfied To place our confidence and love
With childlike faith in God above.
And tiny hands and tousled heads
That kneel in prayer by little beds
Are closer to the dear Lord’s heart
And of his kingdom more a part
Than we who search and never find
The answers to our questioning minds
For faith in things we cannot see
Requires a child’s simplicity.
Oh, Heavenly Father, grant again
A simple, childlike faith to men,
Forgetting color, race, and creed
And seeing only the heart’s deep need.
For faith alone can save man’s soul
And lead him to a higher goal,
For there’s but one unfailing course
We win by faith and not by force.
Family will receive friends Saturday, November 18, 2017, 10am at St. Philip's Episcopal Church, 66 Sussex Ave-Buffalo. Memorial to follow at 11am.