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On February 3, 1943, in New Orleans Louisiana, Thelma Jeanette Frederick was born to the union of the late Joseph Frederick and Jeannette Lawrence. She was welcomed as a daughter to her parents and a baby sister to her brother Clifford.
Thelma was raised by her grandmother and aunts. She graduated from L.B. Landry High School in New Orleans. When her grandmother passed away in 1964, she decided to move to New York City to be closer to her mother and worked as a model. From an early age Thelma had a relationship with God which continued to grow when she joined St. Matthew A.M.E. Church in Hollis, NY.
In 1964 she was introduced to the late Vernon Williams who was in United States Airforce. For him it was love at first sight, but for her she was not too sure. She said that she did not trust a man in uniform. Vernon finally wore Thelma down with all his charm. They were united in holy matrimony at St. Matthews A.M.E. Church on September 25, 1965. To this union God blessed them with three children: Veronica, Rachel Catherine, and Christopher Patrick (deceased).
Vernon and Thelma relocated to Boston, Massachusetts in November 1965. They initially raised their family on Bragdon Street in Roxbury before moving to Hyde Park. Her first job in Massachusetts was as a Respiratory Nurse at the Veteran’s Administration Hospital in Jamaica Plain. Despite health problems preventing her from continuing this work, Thelma always wanted to remain active and engaged in activities which helped others. She spent time working as a Certified Nursing Assistant. She spent many years working as a Mary Kay Consultant. This role allowed her to practice her belief that any woman who wanted to have their own business should have the opportunity to do so. She embodied the Mary Kay Golden Rule: “Doing unto others as you would have them do unto you. Balance priorities, faith, family and career.” She worked her way up to Directorship earning a maroon Grand AM car. Her most rewarding role was serving as a Foster Care Caseworker at Children’s Services of Roxbury. When her husband’s health began to decline, she made the decision to put her work outside the home on hold to be his full-time caregiver until his passing.
Thelma knew her way around the kitchen and enjoyed both preparing and partaking in good southern food. Some of her favorites included red beans and rice, gumbo, potato salad, catfish, baby back ribs, grits and ham and fried oysters. She never said no to an order of porgies from Joe’s Fish and Chips truck. Whether she was in the kitchen with family or friends; doing a consultation with a Mary Kay client or interacting with members of the church, Thelma’s infectious smile was warm and inviting to everyone she met.
Thelma’s love of the God and desire to worship continued to grow when she joined the Historic Charles Street A.M.E. Church in Roxbury, MA., under the pastorate of Reverend Walter C. Davis. She remained active in all aspects of church life. She volunteered in the Food Pantry, was a member of the Curtis D. Wells Lay organization serving as the financial secretary. She was a member of the Sarah Gorham Women’s Missionary Society in the Noah C. Cannon Unit. She was a member of Stewardess Board #1, participated in liturgical dance and sang in various choirs having a special love for the Sacred Music Ensemble. At the 2019 Connectional Lay Biennial in Seattle, WA., Thelma served as the New England Conference delegate. She enjoyed traveling to various lay meetings across the New England Conference with brothers G. Arthur and Nickolas. She was also part of the Charles Street A.M.E. and Wellesley Congregational delegation who traveled to Quito, Ecuador in April 2003 to engage in mission work at Camp Hope Orphanage for children with disabilities. It was a gratifying and rewarding trip for Thelma as she always loved working with children in need.
Thelma was a true advocate for her children. Don’t NOBODY mess with her children because you will have to deal with her. She loved her grandson Zachary (Pokey Bear) who was her pride and joy.
She was a fan of cowboy movies and shows particularly the Virginian, Bonanza and Big Valley. She was also a fan of Tyler Perry watching all the Madea movies and his The Oval television series.
When Thelma was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s Disease, her family knew that it was important for her to participate in activities outside the house to continue to engage her mind and body. She enjoyed going to “the program” as she called the Rogerson Adult Day House in Roslindale. She enjoyed the daily activities they provided and the opportunity to engage with others outside her immediate family.
Thelma departed this life peacefully at home on Friday, January 26, 2024, surrounded by her loving daughters and grandson.
She was preceded in death by her beloved husband of fifty years Vernon, only son Christopher Patrick only brother Clifford and close friend Reverend Jean Louise Sligh.
She is survived by her two daughters Veronica and Rachel and two grandchildren, Zachary Gomes and Chaise Belizaire Williams: spiritual daughters Kathryn D. Jones, Nikia Turner and Renée Reid Goldsmith. Spiritual sisters Reverend Christean Jones-Powell and Myrtle Huggins. Spiritual son Corey Hinton and hosts of spiritual daughters, nieces, nephews, cousins, family, and dear friends.