Bessie L (Wilkins-Holley) McMillan was born April 9, 1934, in Nash County North Carolina. The only daughter to Claude and Cora Wilkins. Bessie is predeceased by her parents and her brothers, Willie, Edward, Thomas, James and Herbert, and a daughter Alma Jean; a granddaughter Glenis; and a half-brother Claude.
Left to cherish her memory are her daughters, Darnell McMillan, April and Martha Holley of Boston MA and Bernice Cook of Albuquerque, NM. She also has a half-brother Harold Wilkins and sister Doris Hutchinson. There are five grandchildren and eleven great and three great, great-grandchildren, and a host of nieces and nephews.
Our dear mom transitioned to her next journey peacefully on the evening of Saturday March 4, 2023 surrounded by family and friends.
Bessie moved to Washington DC in 1955 with her mother and four daughters to embrace a better, more secure way of life for her family. This afforded opportunities to expose her girls to different cultural, recreational, civic and religious experiences.
In 1966 Bessie and her husband Fred D. McMillan relocated the family to Boston Massachusetts. She would often comment “lots of snow, big three-decker houses, loud screeching trains and Dunkin Donuts”. She loved it all, and made it home, where she raised her girls.
She soon began her vocation in the medical field, where she had endless commitment and compassion for her work. Her education and training were with the Somerville Hospital. It is there she was pinned on completion of CNA certificate. What an accomplishment and exciting time for us all.
Bessie was always ambitious, motivated, and outgoing. She and her husband took advantage of an opportunity to establish a thriving, epic, and successful first Black-owned distributorship in New England through the National Amway Corporation.
Bessie worked diligently, made an impact on many people, acquired and enjoyed many friends and acquaintances.
She experienced a medical trauma in 1981. It presented a physical and mental challenge, but she showed her strength and ability to overcome that storm. She was truly an inspiration. This was a testament to the strong and powerful woman we know and love.
A professional coupon clipper, very confident and a bold driver. She loved sewing, growing plants and was known as the Bowling trophy queen, and as of late, the “Nap Queen.”
“Strong Women aren’t born, but they are made by the storms they walk through.”
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