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Alice Roosevelt Seals Whittington Jones Lewis

Born on 3-25-1912. She was born in Alexandria, LA. She was accomplished in the area of Community. She later died on 5-8-1995.
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Alice Roosevelt Seals was a native of Bayou Rapides, a rural community near Alexandria, Louisiana. She was born on March 25, 1912 but there was some confusion about her birthdate and she listed 1909 as her birth year on her application for a social security number. She was the youngest child and only daughter of Irene Lair. Her only sibling, Rev. Willie Brown Seals, was born two years earlier. The product of an interracial relationship, their father, Giuseppe Nasello was a native of Sicily, who immigrated to this country in 1901.

Giuseppe, AKA, Joe Nasello owned a dry goods store in Alexandria that Willie remembered visiting with his mother from time to time. However, Joe Nasello had another family and given the mores of the time, "Papa" Joe never acknowledged his son or daughter. In fact, although he lived until 1958, it appears that father and children never met face to face nor openly acknowledged their relationship. Willie talked freely, yet sparingly of his paternity, often speaking of it in joking terms, noting to his children that he was really an "Italian". Sometimes, he'd mention that he had brothers and sisters, but little additional information was provided about the "other" family. Alice, on the other hand refused to talk about her father and if pressed became angry. In fact, she listed Wilford Thomas as her father on her social security application. Thomas was the husband of her mother, Irene.

The origin of the Seals name has some mystery attached to it, as neither child was given their mother's surname of Lair. According to Willie, "Seals" was a made-up name. He claimed to have taken the name, from that of Lucille Ceil, a favorite teacher. However, initially it was spelled Seal. Later, he added the "s" because it sounded better. There were, in fact, residents of the Alexandria community who were named "Seals", but Willie never admitted to knowing these people or to taking their name.

Alice and Willie grew up in the cities of Alexandria and Lake Charles, Louisiana. It's assumed that both children attended schools in both cities, but given the low value placed on education for Black children, and perhaps the needs of their single mother, their formal education ended in elementary school.

Alice married, for the first time at the age of 18. She married fellow Louisianan, Lawrence Whittington on July 28, 1927. The couple had one daughter, Dorothy, who was born on August 10, 1928. The couple moved back and forth between Chicago and Alexandria over the next few years. The couple divorced but the date is unknown. Alice and Dorothy moved to Buffalo in the early 1940s and she remarried John Jones on June 27, 1948. At one time she lived on Bennett Street. John worked at the Bethlehem Streel Plant.

In 1943, Irene Lair suffered an incapacitating stroke. Alice, who had recently moved from Chicago to Buffalo, decided to move her to Buffalo to take care of her. Following this move, Rev. Seals traveled to the city on at least two occasions to visit his ailing mother. His last visit took place for Mother's Day 1946, just four months before their mother's death. Alice took Irene back to Alexandria for burial and then returned to Buffalo. Irene Lair's death in September of that year set into motion a chain of events that resulted in major life changes for the Seals family. At the urging of his sister, Rev. Seals agreed to move to Buffalo so that the two siblings and their families could be together.

At the time, post-World War II Buffalo was attracting thousands of southern Blacks to its thriving metropolis. Most moved north in search of prosperity, good paying jobs, and the promise of equal opportunity for Negroes. In 1947, the Seals family joined this major historic exodus of Black emigrants that has been described as the Second Great Migration. In the decade between 1940 and 1950, the black population of Buffalo swelled from 18,000 to 36,745. By 1960 this number would almost double. Like so many of their compatriots who were sheltered by family until they found jobs and could get established, Alice invited the seven members of the Seals family to move in with her, her husband John Jones and teen-aged daughter, Dorothy.

The apartment that the families shared at 266 Walnut Street near Broadway was typical of Black neighborhoods of the era. Their cold- water flat consisted of four rooms: a living room, kitchen, and two small bedrooms. The lavatory comprised of only a commode and basin was located in the hall and shared with the back apartment. Alice, John and Dorothy eventually moved to another flat on the same street, 369 Walnut, a block away.

Following her divorce from John Jones, Alice married Rudy Lewis, a railroad worker, on June 27, 1970. Alice worked as a personal care aide and house worker. She was a devoted and engaged member of New Hope Baptist Church.

Alice suffered from Alzheimer's. She died on May 8, 1995, just three weeks after her brother, also an Alzheimer's sufferer. Her only daughter, Dorothy predeceased her on July 29, 1977. She was survived by three grandchildren, Larry Bullock, Kevin Bullock and Trina Adams and five great grandchildren.