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Clarissa Gurley-Waiters was born on December 9, 1927 in Marion, South Carolina to the late Thomas and Eliza Gurley. She was the youngest of four children born of this union. Clarissa became the Matriarch of the family after the passing of her sister Ann in 1998 and older brother James in 2003.
Clarissa passed away in her sleep on Saturday, April 13, 2019 at 8:50am at New York Presbyterian Hospital at the age of ninety-one years, four months and 4 days.
Clarissa attended elementary and middle school in Marion, South Carolina. She attended Howard Highs School in Georgetown, South Carolina. She was an Honor student throughout her high school years and she excelled in all academic subjects.
As a young woman, Clarissa married her childhood sweetheart Williams Waiters, Sr. on August 20, 1944. The couple migrated to New York and began a family. William (known as Willie) and Clarissa had four children from this union: Rosetta Elizabeth, Betty Ann, Jacqueline and William, Jr. (Deceased).
Clarissa better know as Clarice raised her four children in the Bronx, New York. She worked various jobs in the five boroughs to support her family. Clarissa’s last position was a Clerk at Lincoln Hospital located in the Bronx. She loved working and providing assistance to her co-workers and Supervisors. She received many certificates and awards for her dedication and outstanding service to the hospital.
Clarice never brought designer clothing for her children, but their bellies were always full. Peanut Butter and Jelly sandwiches was always one of her children’s daily meals and sometimes their only meal. Sometime other children would say here comes the Waiters children, then someone would say, “How do you know they are coming”? Because you can smell the Peanut Butter and Jelly sandwiches. Clarice would reply to her children saying is does not matter what was being said as long as your belly was full. She did her best to give her children everything they needed, instead of what they wanted most of the time.
Clarissa was a stern disciplinarian and a no-nonsense woman. she did not believe in sparing the rod when it came to doing what she felt was right for her children at all times. She loved taking her family to see the lighting of the Rockefeller Center Christmas tree every holiday season. This became a family tradition each year in the waiters house hold.
Clarice loved to entertain and playing all kinds of music for their enjoyment. Our house was an “open house” to family and friends on weekends. She enjoyed watching her children dance and sing for family and friends. She enjoyed her life to the fullest.
Clarice loved her dogs Frisky and Bingo. Everyone in the neighborhood knew when it was Frisky’s birthday. Clarice would wear a blue outfit and put a large blue bow around Frisky’s neck and walk him around the neighborhood for hours. She often rode around in her blue Impala showing off Frisky to the entire neighborhood. She was so proud of Frisky and was delighted when the neighbors would stop and say “Happy Birthday Frisky”.
Clarice enjoyed her grandchildren and bonding with them. She would tell them that she was part Chinese, because she had “Chinky” eyes, the jury is still out on that factor. Yet, to this day there is an ongoing debate to find out if this is true or not.
Preceding her in death: her parents Thomas and Eliza Sams-Gurley, brothers George and James Gurley, sister Ann Gregg, husband William Waiter, Sr., son William Waiters, Jr., grandson Anthony Boyd, son-in-law Cleveland Vinson, two great-grandchildren Shamika Boyd and Darius Vinson, and great great-grandson Rashawn Ponder, Jr.
Clarice leaves to mourn and cherish her memory her three daughters Rosetta Morris (Reggie), Betty Ann Fludd (Joseph) and Jacqueline Vinson; second son by another mother Kent Hollingsworth; eleven grandchildren: Robert, Shannon, Nadine, Karen, Damon, Felicia, Donnell, Anthony V., Clarissa, Che and Dante; thirty-five great-grandchildren; fifteen great great-grandchildren; nephew Godfrey Gregg, Jr.; niece Jamie Gurley-Dawkins; friend Sylvia Nicks and a special lifelong friend Joan Samuels.