Her father, Wiley Walter Smith, was a circuit minister for
the African Methodist Episcopal (A.M.E.) Church, which
required the family to move quite often when she was a young
girl. Her mother, Lillian (Hoskins) Smith, was a homemaker
who often worked as a domestic to help support her family.
The family eventually settled in Hamilton, OH, where
Shibbolethia (aka “Shibby”) grew up with her sisters,
Margaret and Mollie, and brothers, Emanuel and Paul. Several
other children born to the family would die in their early
She attended Phillips Chapel (now St. Phillips Temple C.M.E.
Church) and the public schools in Hamilton, graduating from
Hamilton High School in 1938.
Accepted to Wilberforce University and graduating in 1942,
she became the first member of her family to attend college.
She majored in home economics as academic options were
limited for Black women.
Shibbolethia met her husband, James Clark Lewis, to a United
Service Organizations (U.S.O.) event while she was in
college. He was in the Army. After her husband was
honorably discharged from the Army, the couple lived in
Florida and Youngstown before settling in Toledo, OH. Mrs.
Lewis held a civil service job in Rossford, OH, while her
husband worked as a mail carrier, and later on as a cab
driver. Four daughters were born of this union: Brenda,
Anita, Cynthia, and Diana.
In the late 1950’s, when the Civil Rights Movement opened
doors of opportunity for African Americans, Mrs. Lewis
returned to college to obtain teaching credentials, and
started her professional teaching career with the Toledo
Public Schools (TPS).
She earned her Master’s degree in Education from the
University of Toledo in 1962 while working and caring for
A highly respected educator, she taught for many years at
the former Roosevelt Elementary, then later at Gunckel and
Jones Junior High School in Toledo. Mrs. Lewis is remembered
to this day by many of her peers and students as a caring,
creative, and skillful teacher.
Widowed in 1965, she became a single parent when her husband
died from a heart attack at home. During this difficult time
of her life, she had to assume new responsibilities that
included learning how to drive for the first time.
A long-time member of the Phillips Temple C.M.E. Church in
Toledo, OH, she served as Superintendent of Christian
Education, conference delegate, missionary president, Sunday
school teacher, and as chairperson for many programs,
including Vacation Bible School.
A prolific writer, she wrote articles for The Christian
Index (a C.M.E. Church publication), poems, and narrative
speeches. She published a collection of intercessory prayers
in 1998. She is known for her “ministry” of calling,
writing, and sending cards to encourage and to keep in touch
with family and friends.
Mrs. Lewis moved to Missouri City, TX, in August, 1997, to
live with daughter, Cynthia, and son-in-law, Bernis Hickman,
both formerly of Toledo. They welcomed her and served as
loving and devoted caregivers for 20 years, providing her
with a rich, full life.
On October 13th, 2007, she was able to attend and
celebrate her 69th high school reunion in
Hamilton with the class of 1938. She was 87 years old at the
In November of 2008, at the age of 88, she was so happy and
proud to cast her vote for the first African American
President of the United States, Barack Hussein Obama; who
sent her a proclamation in August 2010 acknowledging her 90th
Despite many life challenges, she remained a woman of grace,
strength, character and perseverance, with a twinkle in her
eyes and heart full of love for God and her family.
Mrs. Lewis, 97, passed away at her home on Sunday, August
20, 2017 under the care of Compassus Hospice - Houston.
She was preceded in death by: her husband, James Clark
Lewis; great-grandparents, Richard and Hannah (French)
Morris; grandparents, Emanuel and Maggie (Morris) Hoskins;
parents, Rev. Wiley W. and Lillian( Hoskins) Smith; her
siblings: Mollie, Paul, and Emanuel Smith; and Margaret
Smith - Doyle; one aunt, Pearlena (aka ‘Vanilla’) Hoskins;
uncles, Pete (Rosa Lee), and James (Minnie) Hoskins; a
beloved niece, Margaret Wood; nephews, David Smith, Emanuel
Merritt , and Kevin Smith; great nephew, Donald Wood; and
great grandson, Feniks James Hughes.
She is survived by daughters: Brenda L. Lewis, RN, MSN-Ed;
Dr. Anita M. Lewis-Sewell, BA, MD; Dr. Cynthia J. Hickman,
RN, MSN-Ed, PhD; and Diana L. Hughes B.S.Ed., M.Ed.; Son-in
Law, Bernis Hickman, a retired U.S. Postal Service employee;
grandchildren: Teresa (Zac) Hinton, Brenda (Donzell)
Gulley-Moore, Bridgette Lynn Johnson-Ellis, Kerri K. King,
Maria (Larry) Wilson, Michael (TerriLynn) Lemons, Ebrandia
(Tyrone) Perry, James C. Hughes III, Jason T. Hamilton;
nephews, Richard “Dick” (Jackie) Smith, Stanley Merritt,
Timothy Fields, Henry Fields; special friend, Henry Farley,
and a host of nieces, nephews, cousins, and great
grandchildren. She was greatly loved and will be greatly
missed by us all.
A Memorial Service celebrating the life of Mrs. Shibbolethia
B. Lewis will be held on Saturday, September 9, 2017, at 1
p.m. at the Warren African American Episcopal (A.M.E.)
Church, 915 Collingwood Blvd. in Toledo, OH.
Funeral and burial will be
in Missouri City on Saturday, September 16, 2017. Visitation
and viewing are from 10 a.m. -11 a.m. at Willowridge
Missionary Baptist Church, 2803 S. Main Street, Stafford, TX
77477. Home-going celebration will begin at 11 A.M with Dr.
Clifton Montgomery, Jr., officiating.
The private interment
service will be at Houston National Cemetery, 10410 Veterans
Memorial Dr., in Houston, TX 77038.