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Rosie Lee Bilbrew-Holmes, affectionately known to her family as Mama, Grandmama, and Big G, was born on September 26, 1931 in Canton, Mississippi to L.Q. Beal and Hannah Elizabeth Morris (Mama Lizzie). She was raised by her mother Mama Lizzie and her step-father Daddy Willie, both preceded her in death. Rosie married Robert Lee Bilbrew and to this union were born nine children. Rosie then married Roy Holmes who preceded her in death.
When Rosie moved to Portland, Oregon she resided with her Aunt Viola Collins and older Cousin Nancy Taylor in Vanport. When they relocated from Vanport to Portland, Oregon, Rosie attended Woodlawn Elementary School and graduated from Lincoln High School.
Rosie was employed with Portland Public Schools at Lincoln High School, Washington Monroe High School, and Thomas Jefferson High School as a Community Agent where she mentored countless students. During her tenure at Jefferson, Rosie had ten grandchildren that attended school with her and one of our most memorable and funniest moments was when a student was heckling her granddaughter Jomisha and the cousins became aware of the situation, there was a function at the junction! Her ten grandchildren tore Jeff up looking for the student and Rosie was left standing in the hallway trying to see which way all her grandchildren fled before finally calling for help to corral them together. The grandchildren benefited greatly from her employment at Jeff to the extent of free breakfast and lunch tickets, and oh, free passes to get to class when they were late.
Rosie was raised in the church by her mother, Evangelist Missionary Lizzie Joshua at Zion Hill Church of God in Christ under the leadership of Bishop W.L. McKinney. After she accepted Jesus Christ as her personal Savior and was filled with the Holy Ghost Rosie became a member of Cornerstone Community C.O.G.I.C. (formerly New Hope C.O.G.I.C.) under the leadership of Superintendent B.E. Johnson. During her tenure at Cornerstone, she served as Sunday School Teacher, Bible Band Teacher and was the auxiliary leader of the Mother’s Board. Mother Holmes attended New Life C.O.G.I.C. under the leadership of her son, Elder Donald Bilbrew where she served in the positions of Sunday School Teacher, Sunday School Superintendent, Bible Band teacher, and a member of the Finance Department before reconnecting with Cornerstone where she served until her transition.
Mother Holmes was an excellent Sunday School and Bible Band Teacher and was often found studying and preparing to teach throughout the week. She would always ask her students did they read the lesson, and then ask did they study the lesson! Her favorite song that she would sing before engaging to teaching was “So Glad I’m Here, I’m Here in Jesus Name”. Mother Holmes was a steadfast pillar in her church and was immensely influential in the spiritual development of many individuals and mentored countless women and men in the church. Mother Holmes was a confidant to many individuals and would have “late night, fireside chats” and words of encouragement with Jr. Church Mother, Mother Minnie Golden and others. Mother Holmes was saved to the bone through and through; trustworthy, standard-bearer, holy, righteous, uncompromising, and saintly are just a few words to describe her character and demeanor; and yes, Mother Holmes loved to wear her hats! Her accomplishments were many, her influence immeasurable, and legacy unparalleled.
Mother Holmes was an avid sports enthusiast and was the biggest fan of her children, grand-children, great and great-great grandchildren. She followed all of her children and grandchildren from high school to college and was very proud of their sports and educational accomplishments. Whether basketball, football, baseball, soccer, or softball, Mother Holmes was the cheerleader for every game and comforter for every loss. On Saturdays when her great-grandson LaMar would play on television, she would call her daughter Fae or granddaughter Libby and ask, “What is his jersey number?” Five minutes later she would call again and ask, “Now what is LaMar’s number?” Mother Holmes would have attended all of her grandchildren’s sporting events if she could, but nonetheless cheered them all on to victory.
Mother Holmes was a great cook and loved to burn during the holidays for her family. She cooked full course meals for her family during the Thanksgiving and Christmas holidays with Turkey, Ham, Dressing, Candied Yams, Greens, Mashed Potatoes, Mac & Cheese, as well as stacks of Sweet Potato pies and cakes. Mother Holmes would bake individual cakes for each of her nine children on Thanksgiving as well as Christmas.
Mother Holmes leaves to cherish her memories, Nine children; Jacqueline R. Nichols, Elizabeth Fae Richard, Mercedes Mazique (George), twins Donald Bilbrew & Darnell Bilbrew, twins Valerie Berry (James) & Valora Mason, Toni Booker (Michael), and Terri Tinnon (Andrew); Brothers, Reginald Beal, Leon Beal (Maggie), and Sister, Marian Beal; Cousins, Cynthia Simpson, Gregory Taylor, Sr., God-sister Emma Adams; Thirty-five grandchildren, Forty-four great-grandchildren, Eight great-great grandchildren, and a host of nieces, nephews, cousins, family, and friends.