Yesterday’s Souls story was about Eddie Irby and the restoration of Oaklawn Cemetery. Here are a few stories of the almost 10,000 people buried there
Aline Jenkins Howard (Sept. 26, 1921 – Jan. 31, 2019)
Early in life, Aline was encouraged by her mother and her grandmother Alice Carstarphen in her academic pursuits beginning in the Mobile Public County School System. She matriculated to Tuskegee University and graduated from Alabama State University. She received her master’s degree from Columbia University in New York. Continuing her educational pursuits in Mobile she obtained her Doctorate of Education.
Teaching in upstate New York and the rural counties in Alabama, upon returning to Mobile, she continued her career as a teacher and administrator at Cottage Hill Elementary School, Council Elementary School and Blount High School. She was a member of National Educational Sorority of Phi Delta Kappa, Psi Chapter.
Aline’s life journey took a fascinating turn in 1940 when she was crowned the Mobile Area Mardi Gras Association’s first queen and first African American monarch with King Elexis I, Alex Herman in Mobile. She was also the founding member of the Royal Family Feast, bringing the monarchs and members of the Mobile Area Mardi Gras Association courts together, who recently celebrated their 50th Anniversary.
(from her obituary)
Isaac White, Sr. (Nov. 12, 1919 – May 9, 201
Mr. White was awarded the Mobile. Alabama Exceptional Citizen Medal on February 20, 2017 bY Mayor Sandy Stimpson.
He was born to sharecroppers in Wilkerson County, Mississippi, in 1919. When he arrived in Mobile, Alabama in 1942, he didn’t realize he would become a pillar in the community, but that is exactly what happened. In 1960, he opened White’s Barber College and for the next six decades, he taught, mentored, and served as a role model to hundreds of students. When a student completes the program at the college’s red brick building on the corner of Martin Luther King Jr. Avenue, they leave with a valuable skill, invaluable life lessons, and no student debt. White’s barbering course fees are waived for all students who meet the requirements to receive a barber’s license and secure a job by the end of the program.
During the Great Depression, White joined the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC), President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s New Deal jobs program. While working in Georgia, White picked up a pair of scissors and began his barbering career. In 1944, two years after he moved to Mobile, Alabama to work as a truck driver at Brookley Air Force base, White opened his first barber shop with only one chair.
From the beginning, White’s parents instilled in him the importance of putting God at the forefront of his life. For 10 decades he has embodied that value through his words and actions, and every Sunday, since 1945, White has been walking through the doors of Stone Street Baptist Church. For White, the only way to serve God is through helping people, and he has been serving God for almost 100 years. One of his favorite pearls of wisdom that he gives to his students and the young people in the community is, “Don’t catch the devil’s ball. He’ll strike you out every time.” This means stay focused on your goals, and don’t let outside distractions make you lose your way.
In 2015, the City of Mobile added the street sign “Honorary Isaac White, Sr.” at the intersection of Martin Luther King, Jr. Ave. and Peach St., the site of White’s Barber College, to recognize his exceptional work in the community. In 2017, during Black History Month, White was recognized by Allstate Insurance Company in their national “Worth Telling” campaign for creating career opportunities for the underserved.
(From the Bicentennial African American History Book)
Leon C. Roberts (June 29, 1921 – July 11, 1944)
Lieutenant (later Major) Leon C. Roberts of Prichard, Alabama, class 42-G-SE. On January 27, 1944, Roberts shot down one FW-190 over Anzio; the plane could have gotten away but turned to fight Roberts, who compensated for his Curtiss P-40L’s lower speed with superior gunnery skills. One of three Tuskegee Airmen on the first air-to-air combat action on June 9, 1943, which resulted in no losses to either side. Killed in Action when his P-51C (#42-103913) lost oxygen and spun in. At the time, Roberts was the 99th’s Operations Officer and the last original member, with 116 missions. His twin brother was an instrument instructor at Tuskegee.
Rev. Cleon Roberts (June 29, 1921 – June 18, 2007)
Twin brother of Leon Roberts was a pastor in the AME Zion church for 40 years. He also worked for the U.S. Postal service. During World War 2, he was an instructor in instrument flying to the Tuskegee Airmen
(From Find A Grave)
Dr. Yvonne Kennedy (Jan. 8, 1945 – Dec. 8, 2012)
Dr. Yvonne Kennedy was an educator, former college president, state legislator, civic and organizational leader. She was among the first wave of Black political leaders to reap the benefits of civil rights activism in Alabama. Kennedy was often referred to as the “Black Jackie Onassis” for her style and grace.
Kennedy was born on January 8, 1945, in Birmingham, Alabama to Leroy and Thelma Kennedy. She received an Associate’s degree from S.D. Bishop State Junior College, a Bachelor’s degree from Alabama State University and a Master’s from Morgan State University. She also earned her Ph.D. from the University of Alabama and was awarded an Honorary Doctor of Letters from Lane College in Jackson, Tennessee.
She was initiated into Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc. in 1964 at Alabama State University, and went on to serve in several leadership positions from the local to the national level. She served as the sorority’s 19th National President from 1988-1992. Dr. Kennedy was first elected to the Alabama statehouse to represent the city of Mobile in 1979. She became president of Bishop State in 1981 and resigned from that position in 2007.
Dr. Kennedy served as a Ranking Minority Member of the Economic Development and Tourism and the Children and Senior Advocacy House, transportation, utilities, and infrastructure committees. She was a Democratic member of the Alabama House of Representatives, representing the 97th District from 1982 until 2012.
Lillie Mae Marks (Sept. 9, 1920 – Dec. 4, 2011)
Mrs. Lillie Mae “Mudear” Marks, a native of Monroeville, Alabama and a resident of Mobile, Alabama, born September 9, 1920, departed this life on December 4, 2011 at a local hospital. She was a member of Greater Mount Olive Baptist Church #2 and a retired employee of the National Gypsum Plant.
(From Find A Grave)
Mattie Thomas Blount (July 15, 1898 – June 8, 1946)
The early education of Mattie Thomas was in Tuscaloosa, Alabama after the turn of the century. She attended Payne Normal School in Selma, Alabama. She graduated summa cum laude from what was the Alabama State Teacher’s College in Montgomery, Alabama and during World War II took courses towards her master’s degree. Her earliest teaching assignment was at Wilmer Elementary School, which was associated with the Mobile County Public School System. She was relocated to be a teacher in the Meachem Elementary School in Mobile, Alabama in 1916. Mattie Thomas was made an assistant principal after the death of Ella Grant in 1937. Mrs. Blount served the community until her death at the age of forty nine and is buried in Oaklawn Cemetery, Mobile, Alabama. She was a member of Samuel Chapel African Methodist Episcopal Church.