Wilma Jean Ellsberry, 89, passed away September 3, 2021, at home with her family in Kansas City, MO. Born Wilma Gene Searcy August 7, 1932, in Independence, MO to Manson and Ella (Tadlock) Searcy, she answered to many names: Momma, Momma Ellsberry, Grandma, Big Grandma, Granny, and Grandma Ellsberry.
At a young age, she was baptized at Eighth Street Missionary Baptist Church. Growing up in Kansas City, KS, she attended Douglas Elementary School, Northeast Junior High School, and Sumner High School. She graduated with the class of 1950 while completing her cosmetology license. After high school, she attended Berkeley College in Berkeley, CA, receiving her Secretary Services certificate. For over 40 years she was active in the Queen of Sheba Order of the Eastern Star Rose of Sharon Chapter 1, holding many offices and training teen girls who entered the organization.
Wilma married William Ellsberry in Kansas City, KS, where they raised five children. During their formative years, she was a housewife and the neighborhood girls’ Blue Bird leader. She enjoyed sewing and making clothes for all her children. After her youngest daughter, Kim, entered school, Momma Ellsberry worked for the American Beauty Spaghetti for over 25 years, retiring in 1995. For a few years, she was also a foster grandparent.
In July 1962 Momma Ellsberry united with the Salem Missionary Baptist Church in Kansas City, KS, regularly attending with her five children worship, Sunday School, and Baptist Training Union (BTU). As a long-standing member of Salem Baptist Church in Kansas City, KS, she was always willing to serve. She wrote, directed, and sewed costumes for the church Christmas plays. As a proud deaconess, she served in several leadership roles in the Ruth Circle of the Mission Department, Kitchen Committee, Senior Citizen Ministry, and Good News Club. She also served in several offices in the Kaw Valley District of the Kansas Missionary Department. She was honored for her lifetime of work and was named a member of the State Hall of Fame.
Mother Wilma attended the Salvation Army regularly, where she would pick up her “Golden Girl” best friend, Ruth Neal, spending hours shopping. Mother Wilma loved her “Golden Girls” group that included Jessie Marshall, and Ruth Neal, who are now reunited in paradise. Church members gave them the name “Golden Girls” because they were always together at City Mission, Kaw Valley District events, church camps, state conventions, and National Baptist Conventions.
Mother Wilma is preceded in death by William Ellsberry, her parents, mother Ella (Tadlock) Searcy and father Manson Searcy Sr.; sisters Rosa Searcy, and Irene Wright, and brothers Manson Searcy Jr. and Johnny Searcy.
Wilma is survived by her 5 children Herranda (Maurice) Bass, Luthaniel (Carla) Cole Jr., Deborah Ellsberry, Sheila Ellsberry, Kimberly (Ike) Gobert- Flynn. 13 grandchildren Shaunté (Jelani) Coppage, Edmund Weathers, Luthaniel (LaTessa) Cole III, Maurice (LaToya) Bass Jr., Christopher Cole, Kayla Cole, Aaron Bass, Anthony (Valeshia) Pollard Jr., Micaéla Pollard, Keshia Cole, Bryan Bass, Desmund Weathers, Shelah Ellsberry, 22 great-grandchildren, a special great-niece Wanda (George) Holloway; and a host of nieces and nephews and other relatives.
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