Ossie Bynum Emerson was born on her family’s farm on a warm summer day in Goldston, North Carolina on July 5th, 1918, the fifth child and second daughter born to the late Emma Lane and Hazy Bynum, Sr. Her end of this life on March 2nd, 2019 came suddenly in the last week. Her mind and spirit were still strong to the end – even celebrating worship on Thursday with family, but her body had become weak. She was loved by so many and we celebrate the many blessings she bestowed.
The last surviving among thirteen siblings, Ossie was preceded in death by brothers George, Lumis, R.G., Wrenn and H.B., and sisters Ola, Elizabeth, Mary Liza, Virginia (Jenny), Mildred, Mary Lois and Aileen. She is survived by family, numerous cousins, nieces and nephews.
From her childhood home, Ossie recalled “the good water we drew from a spring and the pretty yard with a big oak tree that kep’ the yard full of acorns and leaves.” And she swept that yard every day, kep’ it clean. She remembered corn shucking and cribbing time with lots of singing, games and good food; making lye soap from hog fat and pot ash; clothes washing in pots over open fire; Christmas trees at church and the nice box of candy she received one Christmas, wrapped in red and green paper.
Ossie’s life took her through six generations of families for whom she worked – in the 1930’s with the Stevens family at Roads End Farm in Belmont, and then beginning in 1945 (‘til 2015) for the related Jones and Holt families in Burlington. While working for the Jones/Holts, she cared for four generations and helped raise three -- most recently welcoming into this world the fifth. Her spiritual gifts of loving kindness, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control were demonstrated through the most special hospitality and care she selflessly gave to so many. She touched many lives in a lasting and eternal way.
A fabulous cook, Ossie developed her craft since she was a small girl, and then in her teenage years when she helped cook at Mrs. Griffin’s boarding house in Sanford. Her fried chicken (OFC ... and fried livers) could never be replicated, no matter how much someone studied her method. “You just have to get the oil the right temperature and turn when they are ready.” And brownies, deviled eggs, ham biscuits, fried okra, chess pie, baked apples, fried oysters, stuffed squash and more.
Some of her favorites shared: flowers (all kinds, roses mostly); vacation visits with her extended family; Sundays with her church family at First Baptist on Apple Street; her family photo gallery; trips to Atlantic Beach in her younger years; Association Meetings at Robbins Chapel Baptist Church in Goldston and her lake baptism there; pro rasslin’ and roller derby; back-hall, frontporch and sunporch; Rock of Ages hymn; BDS May Day programs; birds at the feeders; Stuckey’s pecan log rolls; weeping willow branch switches (not our favorite and which we would try to break); Walt Disney World’s Magic Kingdom; best friendships with Rachel, Lillie Mae, Leroy & Mamie Lou; watching the garden grow (and asking how yours was doing); and of course KitKats... lots of KitKats.
When she moved to Blakey Hall in Elon very late in life, Ossie was so thankful and always spoke kindly of the staff and residents there. She made many new friends and was well-cared for every day. She sometimes commented that she would like to go to the kitchen to share some of her favorite recipes. It was likely that she really just wanted a little more salt for flavor. She was salt and light in her own right.
Ossie was always strong. Always. When she completely broke her femur at age ninety-eight, family worried that this would be an end to her independence, but Ossie was convinced otherwise. Her focus was to return to Blakey, her home, and that was it. During rehab, she followed her regimen for recovery and left there stronger than ever. But it was not this physical strength that was most telling. During her stay at Edgewood Place, Ossie welcomed several roommates with whom she shared space and time. She was always speaking encouragement to them and set such a wonderful example for recovery.
From our late Aunt Cattie McCormick, a sweet remembrance of Ossie in this poem:
The tide recedes but leaves behind Bright seashells on the sand. The sun goes down, but gentle warmth Still Lingers on the land. The music stops, but echoes on In haunting sweet refrain. For every Joy that passes, Something beautiful remains. Ossie has been a Joy to each of us, and something beautiful remains in our lives and hearts because of her.
Last week, Ossie was asked if she was ready to go to Jesus, and she quietly exclaimed, “Yes!” She always had such big, strong and tender-loving hands and now she rests in the hands of the One Who loves her the most.... In the whole wide world. God bless you Ossie...
A celebration of life for Ossie will be held at First Baptist Church on Apple Street, Burlington, NC by Rev. Dr. Dray A. Bland on Thursday, March 7th at 12 Noon with interment to follow at Pine Hill Cemetery. A viewing at the church will precede the service beginning at 11AM.
Ossie asked that all memorials and gifts be made to First Baptist Church, 508 Apple Street, Burlington, NC 27217 - to further their ministry to the community.
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“Stephen, full of the Holy Spirit, looked up to heaven and saw the glory of God, and Jesus standing at the right hand of God” (Acts 7:55). Oh... what Ossie must be enjoying! And with this in mind and while perhaps not exactly in her own words, she would leave each of us with these three self-reflective questions:
∎ Am I right in my relationship with the Lord? ∎ Am I right in my relationship with others? ∎ Am I investing myself in things that will last for eternity?
We love you Ossie...
To send flowers to Ossie's family, please visit our floral section.