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Clara Dorothea Ellis Seals

Born on 8-5-1921. She was born in Pineville, LA. She later died on 12-24-2005.
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Clara Doretha Ellis was born in the small rural community of Pineville, Louisiana on August 5, 1921. She was the third child of Augustus (Gus) Ellis, a World War I veteran and Emma Elizabeth Williams Ellis. The community in which Clara was raised was a tightly-knit community comprised of residents who were all related to each other. In fact the community was called Ã?¢ââ??¬Ã?â??Kinfolks Hill" because of the familial ties of its inhabitants. In 1923, when Clara was just two years old, Gus Ellis was killed in a tornado that devastated Pineville and its surroundings. Clara, her two brothers and sister were raised by their single mother and her extended family. As her mother was a deeply religious and strong family person, Clara notes that the love of God, family and community was instilled in her from an early age.

Clara attended grammar school in Pineville, but left school after 8th grade to work. She felt that she needed to help her mother take care of the family. She worked primarily in the homes of white families, caring for their children as well as doing housework. During World War II, she worked in the cantina of the local army base preparing lunches for the soldiers. She also worked, for a time, as a maid at the Bentley Hotel. She remembers that these were hard times, especially during the Depression, but because the family could barter work in exchange for food and other goods, she never felt deprived or went without.

In 1943, Clara met and married her husband, Rev. Willie Brown Seals. Rev. Seals already had four small children and a year later the family was increased when a fifth child was born. The Seals family moved to Buffalo, New York in 1947. They immediately joined the St. John Baptist Church, where Mrs. Seals became active in the Minister's Wives and the Missionaries. She was one of the oldest members of St. John's having a membership that spanned over a half century. In 2005, she observed her 58th year as an active member of the congregation and of the Missionary Auxiliary.

Clara's one passion extra-curricula activity has been bowling. She bowled with several leagues, including the St. John Bowling League, for more than 15 years. Even at the age of 83, she still threw a few strikes and had a handicap of 165. Her high game was a 220. She also enjoyed knitting and crocheting and made bed spreads, doilies and other knit items for her family.

Following her move to Buffalo, Clara held several jobs for short periods, but stated that her most important job was in parenting her children and grandchildren. In addition to the five children they had when they arrived in Buffalo, the Seals had four more sons and a daughter. As her family grew and begin having families of their own, Clara filled a role that she saw so often taken by the women in her family. She became the caretaker of many of her grandchildren, allowing her children to fulfill dreams of further education or career development. As such, she epitomized the Uncrowned Queens whose selflessness supported and helped ensure a better life for their children, grandchildren and great grandchildren. Her awards and recognitions are reflected in the lives and contributions of her family.

Mrs. Seals died on Christmas Eve, 2005 surrounded by her family. She is buried in Forest Lawn Cemetery, next to her husband of 52 years, Rev. Willie Brown Seals.