August 6, 1918 ~ July 8, 2020
Born in: Phenix City, AL
Resided in: Indianapolis, IN
“In 1918, a new influenza virus emerged, (The Spanish Flu). During this same time period World War I was taking place. The conditions of World War I (overcrowding and global troop movement) helped the 1918 flu spread. The vulnerability of healthy young adults and the lack of vaccines and treatments created a major public health crisis, causing at least 50 million deaths worldwide, including approximately 675,000 in the United States”. This pandemic lasted just 15 months but was the deadliest disease outbreak in human history.
The Life of Bessie Mae
On August 6, 1918 in Russell County Alabama in a little country town called Fort Mitchell, Bessie and Richard Jackson became the proud parents of a darling baby girl whom they named Rutha Mae. Her siblings were: Marie, Clara, Leroy, Willie, Andrew and Harrison Jackson. In December of 1918, Bessie fell prey to the dreadful pandemic (The Spanish Flu) and succumbed to the virus leaving her baby girl to be raised by her grandparents, Eliza and Charlie Johnson. Rutha grew up in Russell County and was educated in the public schools. As Rutha grew older, she felt the need to have a connection to her mother whom she didn’t remember. She no longer had her mother but she could have her name, thus changing her name to Bessie Mae.
After getting married, Bessie Mae became a mother herself giving birth to six children. In 1956, Bessie moved to Indianapolis, Indiana to have a better life for herself and her children. She was employed for several years at Millers Poultry. Bessie maintained her relationship with Christ and united with Tabernacle Missionary Baptist Church in Indianapolis where she remained a faithful member and served in several ministries. Three of her children passed away from various illnesses but she kept the faith.
She would ride the church bus every Sunday until her health began to fail. Her oldest son Willie “Bob” began to take her to Sunday School and church every Sunday that she felt well enough to attend.
2020 Corona Virus Pandemic.
As fate would have it, just as she lost her mother to that horrific pandemic in 1918, one hundred and one years later she lost her oldest son, Willie “Bob” to the dreadful COVID-19 (corona virus) pandemic of 2020. In spite of all she had been through, Bessie remained faithful to God and read His word daily. Through her faith, and obedience to God’s word she was blessed to be the matriarch of six generations.
On her 100th birthday her daughter Vera, grandchildren and great-grandchildren granted her the one thing that she always wanted. They took her to Las Vegas to see the lights!
On Wednesday evening July 8, 2020 at 8:30 p.m. at the age of 101 years, 11 months and 29 days God saw that Bessie was tired and He said: “Well done good and faithful servant; you have been faithful over a few things; I will make you ruler over many things. Enter thou into the joy of The Lord.” On August 6th Bessie Mae Miles would have been 102 years old!
She leaves to cherish her memory, daughter Vera Johnson; sons, Jimmy Brown of Indianapolis and Felix “Doug” Brown of Phenix City, Alabama; 27 grandchildren, 82 great grandchildren, 126 great-great grandchildren and 25 great-great-great grandchildren and 55 bonuses!
She also leaves one niece, Tamara Ash Florence; one special cousin, Thomas Jackson and a host of other relatives and friends.