Our mother’s life set alongside the late evening sun. On June 10, 2022, Doris Mae Delk Blount, age 91, made peace with a life well lived. She crossed to safety into a land she’d spoken of many times. A place, in her eyes, made from the light of eternal love. A place where you are required to check your burdens at the door. We imagine that and smile, questioning whether we should feel sad or jealous. We are happy though because we have decided that her mother, Julia Delk Lock, who died on the same day 23 years earlier, has greeted her with open arms on the shores of the afterlife.
Our mother did have burdens to lay down. Hers and those of others she helped lift along the way. Her burdens often had to wait. One day when we were young, someone started banging on our front door – which no one ever used. When she opened the door, there was a boy. He was scared and in a panic. Something terrible had happened and he ran to our house for our mother’s care and assistance. On the way to our house, he had to pass other houses and one might wonder why he would run past the potential assistance in those houses to get to ours. But now, of course, we know why so many people over the years came knocking on our door for Doris Blount. We do not ever recall our mother saying no to a person in need. We do not recall her ever not going the extra mile until she felt the given situation was properly under control and the many folks she cared for felt loved and protected. She was a finisher, and she completed her tasks of humanity with tenderness and affection.
Our mother assessed the world and decided that education was the key to success for her children and all other children. Especially for the Black children rising from the fading days of Jim Crow in America. At Hill Street Baptist Church (now Main Street), she took a job teaching at the church kindergarten. The Martha James Memorial Kindergarten. There she taught a generation of children who would grow up to change our world. Our cousin, Stephanie Brown, sat with us at our mother’s bedside only days ago, reminiscing about how hard we worked in that old schoolhouse with two downstairs rooms and a drop-down ladder to the upstairs bathroom. The fact that the building wasn’t much was not an issue for our mother. As she later said, “No brick ever educated a child.” She taught with passion. She stoked the fire of dreams in her students. We recalled how the first-grade teachers at the elementary school jockeyed for position to grab the graduating kindergartners. As Stephanie said, “We left there knowing how to read.” Our mother was also the Den Mother for the Cub Scouts at our church. Our children love to tell the stories of summers with my mother, walking through the grocery store or on the street in Smithfield, amazed by the adults who would stop her and thank her for the gift she gave them in that church school. She joined the public school system after integration and spent the rest of her working years providing the same love and direction to every child in her classroom. The day after she passed, we received an email from a dear, family friend. In it, he wrote about his son. “He remembers your mother fondly from his days at Hardy Elementary. She made such an impression on so many children. He’s now 50 and those memories are with him for a lifetime.”
Our mother was a child of the world. We love the pictures of her as a young woman, living a vibrant life in the city of Philadelphia where she was raised. Yet, she loved the small-town life too and Smithfield became the home she would treasure most. In one picture, her two worlds came together in a city mouse, country mouse way. She had a part time job working for the agricultural service and there was a picture of her in the paper walking in the field beside a farmer, notably wearing her high heels.
Our mother was a master cook and she loved to share her gift with family and friends. Especially her dinner rolls, the recipe making its way down from slavery. It was a beautiful sight to watch her and her mother navigate a kitchen together. From other rooms, at a distance, we could smell the food. We could hear them talking to each other, their harmony represented in the love within their voices. It was and is a comforting sound, like church gospels rising softly in the distance.
Our mother was a member of the village. Among many civic organizations, she belonged to a social group of Black women, The Champagnette Social Club. We loved it when they came to our house to socialize, eat great food, laugh loudly and boldly, then get down to business planning scholarship drives for graduating seniors.
Our mother was an exceptional wife and, in recent days, her love and support of my father through the years was repaid by the astounding love and companionship our father gave to her as she fought and eventually succumbed to her fight with dementia. We mourned her then and we do so again.
Our mother was a dedicated and proud child of God. Her membership at Hill Street/Main Street Baptist spanned decades. She taught Sunday School. She was President of the Missionary Circle for 15 years and a church trustee. And so much more. Her faith was her core value, and it directed the many missions of her life.
Upon retirement from the Isle of Wight County Public Schools, she received awards for her longstanding service. In truth, she received many awards over the years, but none of them were on the walls of our home. That wasn’t her. Her awards are in what she left behind for the world.
Our mother leaves in this world her husband, R. Edward Blount. In December, they would have been married 70 years. Our mother leaves behind three sons that she dearly loved and fiercely supported. Richard, Brian, and Jeffrey. She leaves behind our wives, Arlene, Sharon, and Jeanne. Her five grandchildren, Siyani, Joshua, Julia, Kaylin, and Jake. And two great-grandchildren. Just as importantly, she leaves behind doctors, lawyers, educators, engineers, professors, writers, journalists, bankers, medical researchers, ministers and more. All of whom learned in the tilted house, in the little room heated by a wood stove. She helped shape the community that she so dearly loved. She might be most proud of that. We most certainly are proud of her.
If you have ever thought of us as kind, think of our mother. If we ever reached out a hand to help, guide or mentor, think of our mother. If we ever stood next to you against the tide of wrongdoing, it’s because of our mother.
Our mother laughed. A lot. She treasured the people in her life who brought her joy, and they felt it. She was a lovely woman, an exceptional teacher, and a one-of-a-kind mother. Her children, daughters-in-law, and grandchildren absolutely adored her. She was always welcoming, supportive, and generous.
This is a letter of appreciation from her sons. We would like the whole world to know that Doris Mae Delk Blount was a force of nature and we loved her.
Homegoing Services will be held 11:00AM Saturday, June 18, 2022, at Main Street Baptist Church 517 Main Street, Smithfield Va. 23430.
Interment will be in Main Street Baptist Church Cemetery; face coverings are required.