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Calumet City bash planned for matriarch

By Chinta Strausberg


Fannie Crosby, the sister of the late Ora A. Higgins, who recently passed at the age of 101, will be celebrating her 100th birthday 2 p.m., Saturday, September 15, 2012, at the Chestnut Court Club House in Calumet City, IL.

Born on December 15, 1912 in Birmingham, Alabama, Crosby, who was a nurse at Weiss Memorial Hospital for 27-years, is the lone survivor of eight children born to Ira and Alice McKinney. While her birthday is on December 15th, her family is coming in from several states to celebrate her natal day this Saturday.

She is the first cousin to First Lady Michelle Obama. Crosby graduated from Wendell Phillips High School and attended Madame CJ. Walker School of Cosmetology. Having worked in this field for two decades, Crosby went back to school and became a nurse. She retired from Weiss Memorial at the age of 65.

Crosby, nicknamed “Tutu” who has 25 grandchildren, 46 great-grandchildren and more than 30 great-great grandchildren, lives with her son, Rev. Ira M. Phillips, associate pastor of New Harvest MBC and a retired CTA motorman, in Memphis, TN where she still plays the piano (her favorite song is “I’ll be Loving You Always”) and dances especially at her daycare school where Rev. Phillips said everyone loves her. Sometimes, he said, his mother gets “quite feisty.”

Her sister, the late Ora A. Higgins, Spiegel’s first African American personal manager who also taught for 31-years at Dunbar High School, passed on July 25, 2012 at the age of 101. She would have been 102 on September 24th and had looked forward to voting for President Barack Obama “one more time.” Before Higgins died of pneumonia, she planned her 36th Ora Higgins Youth Foundation Scholarship Awards dinner, Saturday, October 13, 2012 in the Sabre room.

Referring to Crosby, Rev. Phillips said, “My mother is a very loving person, very funny and she keeps you laughing, She was a strict parent with us but overall she was an inspiration to the children in the neighborhood. She tried to steer them in the right direction. She set them straight. She did not compromise. She spoke from her heart and a woman of wisdom. She was and still is a very good role model. 

“Sometimes she is a little feisty right now,” he admitted laughing. “She goes to a daycare where everyone loves her. She plays the piano and still dances around. She has gained more friends in Memphis than she had in Chicago,” her son said. “There is just something about my mother that sparkles. Her compassion and her love are simply contagious.”

Crosby’s daughter, Saundra Smith who lives in the suburbs of Chicago, said her mother is “like a box of chocolates…always something new with each bite of life.”  “With pride and a wonderful legacy, she continues to lead her family with love, support and a firm hand which God has entrusted her with,” Smith said. “Our family prayer is that she continues to have good health and the eternal love of God.”

Chinta Strausberg is a Journalist of more than 33-years, a former political reporter and a current PCC Network talk show host. You can e-mail Strausberg at: Chintabernie@aol.com.


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