Sunday, May 12, 2019

Ellamae, you had a big life


I got the news on Friday morning that Dr. Ellamae Simmons had died, sleeping peacefully away in the night. She was 101 years old. I will write more soon, because this extraordinary woman, who I met and began working with on her book when she was 97, was certainly one of the most generous, brilliant, and courageous humans I have ever known, and it was my life's great privilege to be asked to write her story. The first black woman allergist and immunologist in the country, Ellamae also posted a raft of other firsts, including being one of eight army nurses to integrate the US armed forces during World War II. After attending medical school on the G.I. Bill after the war, she witnessed and helped usher in more than a century of social transformation, making history herself at every turn. I knew she would be leaving us soon. Her niece had called me two weeks ago to let me know. She asked if I would write her obituary when the time came. And so I shall. I keep having a strange a wondrous thought, that perhaps my mother and Ellamae are meeting now in heaven. Oh, how they would appreciate each other.





16 comments:

  1. I enjoyed reading this book of this beautiful woman. Thanks for helping her to get it written and published.

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  2. another exceptional woman passes through the veil.

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  3. I'm sorry this world has lost such an excellent human.
    Xoxo
    Barbara

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  4. What an amazing story! I'm so glad you were able to help tell it.
    BTW for some reason you turned up on the Bless our Hearts sidebar today, after showing "closed" to any attempt to link to your blog for weeks. I didn't hesitate, jumped right in and was glad to catch up with all your exciting events. Congratulations to your son and your niece on their milestones--you have reason to be very proud.
    Sally

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  5. I think that what Ellen said is what I want to say too. Another exceptional, amazing woman whose name too few know. I just think it's so beautiful that you got to be her voice.

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  6. Such an honor, and so wise of her niece to have chosen you to write for her, A challenge to be sure, how can such a remarkable life fit neatly into obituary sized writing? She lived well, she lived long and she was mighty!

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  7. I'm glad you got to meet her and write her story. People like that, trailblazers, people who stand up, always leave me in awe. I feel like I've kept my head down my whole life. The world is a poorer place without her.

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  8. You introduce us to the most amazing smart trailblazing women. May her memory be for a blessing.

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  9. O yes! Your mother and Ellamae meeting in that fearless place. I'm going to try again to have our public library purchase a copy of Overcome. If they don't, I will buy one. Love the birthday photo from last year!

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  10. What an amazing person she was.

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  11. Thank you for bringing this amazing woman's life to the public attention ( to my attention). What a lovely tribute to a long and important life.

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  12. Thank you for bringing this wonderful woman's life to us here in your blog.You were privileged just as we were to know here and share in her story.
    Blessings to Ellamae.

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  13. I'm sorry to hear of the world's loss of this wonderful soul. I kept meaning to buy a copy of the book, and hadn't made the time to go back through your blog to get the name. This time I wrote it down.

    So glad you got to meet and write about Dr. Simmons. And so sorry for the loss that you must feel on a personal basis. Sometimes people just are so welcoming and so kindred-feeling, it really does get personal when we lose them.

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  14. I'm sorry to hear it, but what a privilege to help her tell her remarkable story!

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  15. My condolences! Such people are rare and we are privileged to have known them. She looks so kind, obviously had great taste in her clothes, and the world was, without doubt, a better place for her presence. Best wishes, Cro x

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