Willamae Ferrell, a loving mother, died on Tuesday, March 30, 2021. She was 87.
She was born in Philadelphia on Jan. 6, 1934, in Philadelphia, one of five children of the late Willie and Jessie Belle Kittrels.
She was educated in the Philadelphia public school system. She was married to the late Willie Ferrell, whom she had known since she was 14 years old. They were together for more than 70 years and their love never diminished.
Ferrell was an active member of Greater White Rock Baptist Church before joining Holy Temple Church of God in Christ, her husband’s church. They often enjoyed spending Saturday nights and Sunday mornings listening to religious programs or gospel music.
Her family said as a wife and mother, Ferrell was truly a Proverbs:31 woman. Throughout her life, Ferrell enjoyed the roles associated with home and family. Her family was her priority and this was demonstrated in so many ways. This priority was apparent upon entering her Yeadon, Pennsylvania, home and observing the display of family pictures, her commentary about the joys of having such wonderful sons, sharing experiences she had with her grandchildren and great grandchildren and sharing the ways that her love for them was reciprocated.
Sometimes her granddaughters reciprocated her love with the gift of time or through a special act of kindness such as styling her hair. Like her granddaughters, her grandsons also cherished her through acts of kindness, words of comfort and many hugs and kisses.
Her family said she was truly a loving mother and everyone, including her cherished daughters-in-law knew that her seven sons were everything to her. For example, Ferrell, who her boys nicknamed “Mamabama,” did not learn to drive until she was in her 50s because she had seven chauffeurs, her sons, to take her wherever she wanted to go.
She celebrated and protected her sons in every way and lovingly recalled precious memories of gifts from them. These memories included gifts of time shared, celebrations of their successes, introductions of their friends, unexpected treats of Cinnabon, home-cooked meals brought to her, unplanned visits and an unforgettable surprise trip to the islands. Her sons frequently planned special Mother’s Day celebrations, mowed her lawn, put out the trash, took her to dinner or doctors’ visits and brought the young grandchildren for visits with her.
“Her legacy of love touched the family, and it is not forgotten; it will be passed on to the next generation,” her family said in a tribute.
Ferrell enjoyed working around her home. It has been said that there was not a home improvement job that she could not conquer; she was particularly good with her hands. Ferrell laid tile, put up paneling and even built an office within their home for her husband. She was often described as the ultimate handy woman.
However, she also loved watching her Philadelphia Sixers or her favorite TV talk shows, working in her garden, or just sitting on the porch with her husband reading the newspaper or talking. She often saved newspaper articles written by her brother Alonzo or articles about her sons. These articles were often shared with family and friends. Going out to dinner, attending family gatherings, bus excursions, trips to Atlantic City to stroll along the boardwalk hand in hand with her husband were among other activities she enjoyed.
“Willamae thrived on giving more than getting and put the needs of family and others before her own needs,” her family said.
“Her employment history with the city and several private entities demonstrated her giving nature, open heart, concern and compassion for others.”
As the neighborhood babysitter to dozens of children after school, she established relationships that endured throughout the years. Many of these relationships were maintained through visits, calls or acknowledging special occasions with flowers or cards.
In the time following her husband’s death, the family is thankful that they were able to share her legacy of love.
She was preceded in death by her husband; son, Jamar; grandson, Stephen; brother, Nathaniel and sisters, Frances and Edith.
She is survived by: her sons, Darrick Kittrels (Carol); Terryl Ferrell (Shawn); Stephen Ferrell (Cydney); Lamont Ferrell (Lawanda); Jacin Ferrell (fiancé, Shanei) and Dion Ferrell (Tiffany); daughter-in-law, Sitti (Jamar); brother, Alonzo Kittrels (Gloria); brother-in-law, Donald Ferrell (Josephine); 10 grandchildren; three great-grandchildren; a goddaughter; best friend, Audrey Pyles, and other relatives and friends.
A viewing will be held April 9 at 10 a.m. at Rolling Green Memorial Park Chapel. A private service will follow. Burial will be in Rolling Green Memorial Park.
Dupree Funeral Home, Inc. handled the arrangements.