I attended one of the most beautiful home going celebrations ever Mrs. Dorothy Elaine Russ affectionately known as Muh, I’ve spoken to Mrs. Russ several times in passing and have complimented her on the snazzy way that she loved to dress, she reminded you of a classy Jackie Kennedy Onassis, but I’ve never had the luxury of having a full conversation with Mother Russ and after hearing all of the great and wonderful things people said about her as a friend, as a sojourner in the ministry, friend and mentor I wished I had, people never put off what you can do today and try to do it on tomorrow because tomorrow is not promised to any of us.
I want to talk about something that we don’t see or discuss much in the church, a church mother and I feel that Mother Russ was a church mother, Kat Gordon spoke about her as a mentor and the stories that she told about how Mother Russ took her under her wings and groomed her to be a good wife, mother, Christian and friend. My husband and I met Kat Gordon years ago when I was a member of the AME church, she encouraged me and my husband to keep our children in school and to educate them, she told us to be at PTA meetings and push our children to be anything that they wanted to be, what she told us was real and true and we listened to Kat and our children graduated from school and entered college and graduated as well. Kat Gordon is one of the reasons I started wearing hats (we would affectionately call her Mrs. Hattie), her hats were so trendy and fashionable, and because we wore so much black in the Ministry I was able to bring a pop of color with my hats and they became my trademark in my church, I was rarely seen with out one.
I remember growing up we had older women that would teach the younger women, Mother Russ reminds me of a church mother, church mothers assisted the Pastor, they washed the linens for the altar, assisted in welcoming new members to the church, offering prayers for the visiting members who are sick or in a nursing home, they are responsible for the church mothers Board, responsible for overseeing meetings of female parishioners, teaches them things that a woman should know not only about church but about family and relationships, they counsel and saw to the physical as well as the spiritual needs of the people in her church, if someone in her church had a need she would speak to her group and they would provide, church mothers would shish you in church, make you spit out gum, spank you and with just a look you wouldn’t say another word, we loved, respected and feared church mothers, church mothers were role models for female members, they would assist women in choosing appropriate church wear, talk to them about respecting themselves, their husbands and their parents, they taught you how to be a good mother, it was the church mothers duty to know how the women groups of her church are functioning and ensure that they are properly staffed well, organized and spiritually motivated, they taught you how to cook and bake, they baby sat, gave peppermints to good children after church and had the best tasting cakes in the town. A church mother knew everything that was going on inside the church and she was a confidant.
I believe that Mrs. Russ was a church mother, she was an only child, who married and had eleven children, when you have that many children you have a big heart and that heart is filled with so much love and joy. She was a preachers wife and held many positions in the church, it was said she could make many meals out of potatoes and cabbage, it was told that her house wand dinner table would be full of family and friends, it was told that she loved to travel and it was told how she loved her hats and high-heeled shoes, how regal and how classy. When I think about Mother Russ, Timothy’s mother and grandmother comes to my mind, Eunice and Lois, their faith was unfeigned, they raised Timothy up to become a servant of the Lord, they have gone down in history as outstanding mothers and special women in faith.
Proverbs 31 was read at Mother Russ’s funeral and I though how appropriate being that she transitioned on March 31st, I would like to say that we should observe March 31st as Muh’s hat day. Let me know if you agree.
What a blessing to this family to have had a mother for as long as you’ve had her, all of you deserve a standing ovation for being such a delight for and to your mother. Though your hearts may still be heavy and grieving, draw strength in knowing that she touched many lives as a church mother. I will wear my hats more proudly now, in her loving memory.
Forever His Servant,
Robin A. Curry