"To Serve This Present Age"



Thessalonia Ware

February 28, 2018

THESSALONIA WARE was born December 31, 1942 in Greensboro, North Carolina.  She received the greatest grace of eternal peace: On Wednesday, February 28, 2018, Thessalonia was called home from this life into the open arms of the Creator in her daughter’s home  surrounded by her loving family.

Tessie, as she was affectionately called by friends, accepted Christ at a young age and was a faithful member of Providence Baptist Church. This is where she discovered her gift of singing. Tessie attended Dudley High School in Greensboro, NC. She later furthered her education at A&T State University, attending with the well-renowned Civil Rights Activist, Jesse Jackson, dual majoring in Sociology and Psychology.

In 1964, Tessie relocated to Buffalo, New York. She joined St. John Baptist Church on Sycamore St. under the leadership of the late Rev. Burnie C. McCarley. Tessie loved the Lord, praised and served him daily. On any given Sunday, you could hear her shouting, “Amen Lights” and “Say That, Say That,” while waving her hand in the air. She didn't care if the church was quiet as a mouse, she was going to praise God.

As a member of St. John’s, Tessie served in many capacities including membership on The Women’s Auxiliary Board, The Good Shephard’s Society, The Sunflower Club, and The Youth Advisory Board. Tessie’s first soprano voice was heard in the Gospel Chorus, the United Voices of St. Johns, the Varson Community Choir, the James Cleveland Gospel Music Workshop and on a gospel album recorded with Gladys and the Rilettes under the musical leadership of Tony Comer.

Tessie’s professional tenure began at Sattler’s Department Store. She later went on to work at AM&A’s Department store. Being conscious of  social challenges, Tessie was gainfully employed with Emergency Employment Act, a federally funded government program as a Community Aide. Her post at Buffalo Municipal Housing Authority allowed her to be a liaison between  tenants and the rental agency in the Perry Projects. Tessie’s benevolence gained her employment as a Health Guide for the Erie County Department of Health. Here, Tessie made knowledgeable the benefits of better health care to young mothers and seniors citizens. Tessie’s labors of love did not end there; she also was employed with Buffalo General Day Care, Main Day Care, Lincoln Day Care, Buffalo Public School #38 as Teacher Assistant, St. John Christian Academy (Aloma D. Johnson), and Arch Bishop Carroll High School as a Parent Assistant.

Tessie’s community involvement include her serving as Vice President of McCarley Gardens Housing Development in 1979, where she was one of the first residents to move in during the first phase of development. In 1976, she served on Perry Youth Service Board as a Community Aide, setting up  programs and jobs for the Youth in the Perry Housing Projects. 

In 1967, Tessie and eight other co-founders established The Mothers of Perry Day Care following a ten-year struggle to develop and build with the purpose of transitioning mothers from the dependence of Welfare to working and providing a safe haven for their children and facilitate learning with an after-school program.

Tessie is a past member of Lady Atkins #241, Order of Eastern Star. She received numerous awards and certificates throughout her life for her many kind acts and accomplishments within the community.

In 2012, Tessie went back to her roots, moving to Greenboro, NC to care for her mother. Her fellowship would continue at Providence Baptist Church. Tessie became involved with a group of women known as the Cancer Sister Network Group. It was this network of women who leaned on one another, loved one another and supported one another throughout their personal journeys.

As Tessie’s health began to fail, the goodwill of her many friends and family stretching from Buffalo, NY to Greensboro, NC aided Tessie’s only daughter, Celeste, in bringing her back to Buffalo. On February 18, 2018, Tessie arrived in the care of her daughter until her peaceful transition just ten days later.

Tessie loved cooking and baking. She will be remembered for her famous Strawberry Cobbler. Most importantly, she will be remembered for her love of God and her faithful service within the community.

She is preceded in death by her mother, Leannar C. Wiley and stepfather, Elzia Wiley. Also preceding Tessie in death are “Golden Girls:” Janice Harris, Catherine Wiggins and Doris Polk, all who were her closest friends and her “crew.”

She leaves to cherish her memory her only daughter, Celeste S. Johnson; two grandsons, Duane Q. LaValley and Jerrel L. Black; one great-granddaughter, Avah J. LaValley, all of Buffalo, NY; one uncle, James Clark of Henderson, NC; stepsister, Geraldine (James) Camp and one nephew, David Camp, both of Stoneville, NC; a very special cousin, whom was more like a daughter,  Annette (Graylin) Bryant of Greensboro, NC and a host of other loving family and friends.

Family will receive friends Saturday, March 10, 2018, 10am at St. John Baptist Church, 184 Goodell St. Funeral to follow at 11am. Interment at St. John's Cemetery.

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