Jakie Adrienne Pendergrass Lawson

Has your life ever been touched by an angel? On this earth walked a beautiful angel of God; a messenger of the gospel of peace and truth; a vessel of faith, hope, and love; a pillar of courage and strength; an overflowing fountain of wisdom and understanding; a wonderful, caring woman, Mrs. Jakie Adrienne Pendergrass Lawson. I believe God puts angels on earth to help, encourage, and show His love to others. Mrs. Lawson was one of those angels. She gave of herself, unselfishly, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. She would help anyone she could, especially her family. She sacrificed her own needs to fulfill the needs of others. Her faith provided the light for her way. Love filled her heart. God strengthened and protected her. She really truly loved the Lord.

Mrs. Lawson loved poetry. Helen Steiner Rice was one of her favorite poets. Another favorite was Paul Laurence Dunbar. She often would recite his poem, “When Malindy Sings.” It inspired her daughter, Roslyn, to make music/singing her career. Mrs. Lawson lovingly refers to her as “Malindy.”

Mrs. Lawson’s brother, David, said that reciting poetry was part of the culture back then. In school, you had to memorize and recite poetry regularly.

Beyond poetry, she loved music, art, dance, theater, education, and history, particularly black history. She is a woman of grace, beauty, culture, and excellence. The study of God’s word and the pursuit of education have kept her on a path that leads to God and helping to educate others about God and her chosen field of home economics. She could easily teach history as well. She could talk for hours about black history.

She loved to sing. Her beautiful voice blessed our hearts for many years. One of her favorite songs was “I Want To See Jesus, Don’t You?” This song truly represents her beliefs and her walk with God every day.

Mrs. Lawson, or Mommy, as her children called her, was an angel surrounded by angels, sent by God. They watched over and protected her constantly, She was a “good Samaritan,” giving someone the food off her table, the clothes off her back, the ride to work, the papers they needed to be prepared, the transportation to the hospital or the doctor’s office, the pair of shoes they needed, the words of encouragement, the scripture passage to help them on their journey, the love of God, the friend indeed, the shoulder to cry on, the seamstress on duty, the whatever-you-need-she-could-get-it-done guarantee. Only with God’s grace and mercy, favor, and love could she have done so much for so many.

The Bible was her constant companion. God’s Holy Word was her backbone and her strength in every situation. She would recite scripture all day – and night. She studied the Bible daily. “Thank God!” is what you would hear her saying all the time. “The Lord’s Prayer,” “The Ten Commandments,” and “The Twenty-Third Psalm” were a part of her daily spiritual meals and made it possible for her to continue on her spiritual journey.

Psalm 92:1-2 says, “It is a good thing to give thanks unto the Lord and to sing praises unto thy name, O Most High: To show forth thy lovingkindness in the morning, and thy faithfulness every night.” Mommy relied on God, giving thanks for everything, and always singing – for joy, for comfort, for peace, for consolation, to give praises to God, to brighten someone’s day, to lift her spirits, to overcome pain, to fight life’s daily battles, to thank God for His many blessings and miracles in her life.

Her ever-abiding love made her unique. First Corinthians 13:4-7, 13 made manifest her testimony that she was a living witness for God.

God loves her. She loved God. God has never left her alone. He was her protection, her strength, and her guide. Psalm 91 (the Psalm of Protection). Verses 10-12, says it best.

There shall no evil befall thee,
Neither shall any plague come nigh thy dwelling.
For He shall give His angels charge over thee,
To keep thee in all the ways.
They shall bear thee up in their hands,
Lest thou dash thy foot against a stone.

His grace and mercy are all we need to make it through. Her life reflected God’s “Amazing Grace.” “…Thru many dangers, toils, and snares, I have already come: ‘Tis grace hath brought me safe thus far, and grace will lead me home…”

Prayer drove her life. It kept her grounded in God’s will. She prayed for everyone, the world, her family, and herself. Prayer really does change things for the better. Besides the prayers that come from the heart, she loved the “Prayer of St. Francis of Assisi.”

Through her faithfulness to God, she persevered and continually became stronger. She inspired others to follow God and become closer to Him. God is ever faithful to her. Hallelujah!

Mrs. Lawson was born and raised in Fort Green, Florida. Her mother was Rena Pendergrass (deceased). Her father was John Moore Pendergrass (deceased). She attended local schools. Her high school days were spent at Smith-Brown High School. She was the valedictorian of her senior class. Her brother, David, says she was the “prettiest girl in town.” He was the baby of the family. He said that his sister would always insist that people call him by his name, no nicknames. She fought battles for him. She was a member of Elizabeth Missionary Baptist Church in Arcadia, Florida. There, she sang in the choir and was a member of several organizations in the church. Her sister was Eva Bell McQuay (deceased). Her brother was Dr. David H. Pendergrast (deceased), Washington, D.C.

She attended Florida A&M University and Southern University. She earned a Master’s Degree in Home Economics and taught at several schools during her career. One of the schools she worked for was Crooms Academy High School, Sanford, Florida. Mrs. Lawson was a member of numerous organizations. She worked tirelessly on her job, empowering students to achieve excellence in their work.

At home, she was the teacher, role model, and master of etiquette, manners, speech, charm, graciousness, and humility. “A teacher must be sympathetic, have a good personal appearance, have ‘good address’, sincerity, be optimistic, have enthusiasm, initiative, vitality, fairness, and dignity. The thoroughly successful teacher was an Angel for temper, a demon for discipline, a channel for adaptation, an optimist for hope, and a hero for courage. Mommy had all these qualities and more. She taught us to love God, to pray, praise and thank God for all things. She gave us integrity, character, and wisdom. She gave everything to her family. Self-sacrifice had no better champion than Mrs. Jakie Lawson.

Mr. Richmond James Lawson, Sr. was the lucky man who won Jakie’s love and adoration. “Daddy loved mommy from the day they met.” They were married and three children blessed their home – Cynthia Ann Beverly; Richmond James, Jr.; and Roslyn Althea Elaine. Mr. Lawson, Sr. (deceased) was a funeral director. She worked hard and long by his side in this family-owned business. She could do anything that was required to help things run smoothly and get done efficiently. Jakie and Richmond were married for over fifty (50) years.

Mrs. Lawson has two grandchildren – Mr. Charles Henry Bell, III, and Mr. Richmond Anthony Rudyard Bell. Her nieces include a devoted niece, Mrs. Kimberly Pendergrast Harris (husband – Michael), and Mrs. Jeannell Lawson Walden (husband – the late Mr. Joseph Walden), Orlando, Florida. Her beloved nephew is Mr. David Moore Pendergrast (Ieasha Pendergrast). Her treasured grandnieces are Miss Ari Harris, Miss Sage Harris, Natiya Kempker, Laila Pendergrast, and Mrs. Joselynne A. Walden Forde. Her son-in-law is Mr. James Vernon Lee (Roslyn’s husband). Her step-granddaughter is Miss Jamesia Monet Lee. Other treasured family members include the C. L. Wilson family of South Carolina; The Garrison Cunningham Family of Plant City, Florida; Mrs. Ida Cunningham-White (deceased), Plant City, Florida; Mrs. Rena Turner (deceased), Tampa, Florida; Mr. John Cunningham, West Palm Beach, Florida; The John Floyd family, Jacksonville, Florida; The Lee Family, Jacksonville, Florida; Ms. Peggy Williams (deceased), Nashville, Tennessee; Mrs. Minnie Holmes (deceased), Arcadia, Florida, and a host of other relatives.

Especially near and dear is cousin Thomas James “T.J.” Cunningham, Sr., Esq., of West Palm Beach, Florida.

Her cousins include Isbella Cunningham, Clinton Johnson (Julie), Eunice P.Twiggs (Edward), Latricia C. Donley, Belinda Palmore-Dennard (Larry), Karran Cunningham-Dillingham, Juan Cunningham (Sharon), Garrison Cunningham (Cynthia), DeNeal Cunningham-Peterson (Alonzo), Karlon Cunningham, F. Malcolm Cunningham, Thomas Cunningham (Theresa), Mallorye Cunningham Curtis, Theresa Cunningham, Leroy Johnson (Ann),Tequesta C. Alston (Timothy), Kimberly C. Mosley (Juan), Yolanda Cunningham, T.J. Cunningham, Jr., Rebecca H. Price, Juanita Montgomery-Hale, and Maxine Montgomery-Crawford (Nathaniel).

Jakie Lawson was always praising others, encouraging others, and giving words of comfort. She was a gourmet cook and seamstress extraordinaire. She used her talents at her church, Bethel Missionary Baptist Church. She sang in the choir, was a member of the Missionary Society; helped with breakfasts, dinners, and special programs; and attended Congress meetings regularly. She was a “Sweet, Sweet Spirit.” She glowed with the light of God’s presence in her heart and in her life. She is a lady with class and dignity, elegance and style. God was her help in every need. She lived the “Fruit Of The Spirit” every day. She visited “The Beautiful Garden Of Prayer” every day. God has stayed with her for over 100 years and blessed her. She loved the song, “So You Would Know Just How Much I Love You.”

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