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Clara Ramsey was born Clara Mae Prince on August 13, 1931, named after her mother Clara Bell Gaston Prince in Shuqualak, Mississippi. The family moved to East St. Louis, IL when she was two years-old where Clara grew up in a diversified area called “The Hill”, this is where she learned to love the Polka music that drifted out of her neighbor’s windows. She said it always made her happy and she listened to it until her final day.
Clara started school at Garfield and went on to Carver in the East St. Louis public schools system, where she stayed through high school at Lincoln. This is where she enjoyed acting in the Drama Club and singing in Lincoln High School’s nationally known award winning A Capella Chior. She would share how she portrayed the role of “The Nurse” in one of the high school plays and was delighted that her youngest daughter and oldest granddaughter became nurses. As a teen Clara worked at Kruta’s Bakery and as a Deck Activities Attendant on the Admiral River Cruise Ship leading passengers to do “The Hokey Pokey.” She shared this story with her eldest great grandson Nigel who was born on her birthday and also worked on a riverboat when he was a teen.
Clara married her high school sweetheart, Jessie Davis, Jr. to this union two daughters were born Sandra and Debra Davis. Jessie was in a fatal car accident leaving her a young widow with one young daughter and expecting another. Clara remained forever close and connected to the Davis family and especially loyal to Jessie’s loving mother Marie Davis.
Clara later married Y.Z. Johnson, Jr. and her last three daughters Mardra, Barbara and Alexandra were born to this union. Clara was a devoted wife that mastered the life of a military wife and mother.
Clara attended Mildred Louise Business College and carried those skills with her to work as a secretary in life insurance industry then went on to work for the United States Government in a career that spanned the globe. She started in St. Louis at the United States Post Office, then working in positions all over the country and in other parts of the world such as Lawton, Oklahoma, Ft. Leavenworth, Kansas, Fort Monmouth, New Jersey, Bad Tölz, Germany with the Green Beret Special Forces Unit, the San Diego, California Naval Base and on through to her retirement in 1993 from a successful career at the U.S. Customs Office Division on the Canadian border in Detroit, MI. It was this office where she met and married Alvin Ramsey. They eventually moved to Bloomington, IL where he passed in 2011. The additional jobs she had along the way are too numerous to mention but they kept her in a position to be able to care for herself and freely help others. She often said, “It’s not what you make, it’s what you do with it.”
Clara accepted Christ as her Lord and Savior in 1962 in Lawton, OK becoming a committed Christian and living as such. She was always an active member at her church no matter what city or country she was in. Over the years she worked served as an Usher, Sunday School Teacher, President of the Women’s Department, Kitchen Ministry, Sunday School Superintendant, Mother of the Church, a foundational member of First United Church of Jesus Christ in Detroit, Michigan and Superintendant of Sunday Schools faithfully ordering Sunday School books and getting the doughnuts into her late eighties at Alpha Omega Church in Bloomington, Illinois.
Clara enjoyed traveling, singing all types of music, sewing, ceramics, caring for her plants, entertaining, painting, refinishing furniture, fashion, home decorating (keeping a home like a showplace), reading, spending time with her family and especially her children, her sons-in-law, especially Reggie and William who adored and cared for her. Her grand and great-grandchildren knew they had the best God had to offer in a grandmother.
Clara moved forward from this life on Saturday, September 21, 2023 in Rochelle, IL. She leaves to cherish her memory five daughters, Sandra Cummings, Bloomington, IL, Debra Williams, Royal Oak, MI, Mardra and Reginald Thomas, DeKalb, IL, Barbara Hill, Clinton Township, MI, Alexandra and William Travis, Detroit, MI; ten grandchildren, Lee Cummings, Las Vegas, NV, Lawrence Cummings, Palm Springs, CA, Aaron (Kira) Banks, St. Louis, MO, Roderick (Michele) Davis, Elkins Park, PA, Arabesque Banks, St. Louis, MO, Alexandra (Darris) Jones, Fairview Heights, IL, M. Christine (Jaime) Hendon, Southfield, MI, Julian Smith, Burbank, CA, Ashley (Richard) Enlow, Detroit, MI and Aalia Allah, Warren, MI; ten great-grandchildren, Nigel Banks, Amaria Patterson, Dylan Jones, Avery Banks, Chauncey Davis, August Banks, Stephen Davis, Chase Hendon, Brennan Enlow, Nova Enlow; one sister, Mrs. Dolly Aaron, St. Louis, MO; sister-in-law, Mrs. Effie Nave, Charlotte, NC; a number of cousins, a multitude of devoted nieces, nephews,one god-daughter, Erica Bender, a special companion Marreen Buntaine and a great number of loving friends.
The Funeral Service will be held at 1:00 p.m. Sunday, October 1, 2023, at Officer Funeral Home Chapel, 2114 Missouri Avenue, East St. Louis, Illinois, with Bishop Clevon Jones officiating. Burial will follow at Sunset Gardens of Memory Cemetery in Millstadt, Illinois.
In lieu of flowers, please consider a charitable gift in her memory to the Kapper Senior Care Services, 1701 E. Lincoln Hwy DeKalb, IL 60115 orLiberty Village of Rochelle (Manor Court) 2203 E. Flagg Rd. Rochelle, IL 60168
For information, visit www.AndersonFuneralHomeLtd.com or call 815-756-1022.