Edith Florence Watkins Rathey, a baby that would grow to love God more than anything in this world was born into time in Tiller, Arkansas on May 26, 1914 to the union of Walter Watkins and Minnie Love Watkins. She was educated in McGhee, Arkansas and in 1930 she met Obbie Rathey and to this union one Son Obbie Jr., was born while in McGhee. They later moved to Chicago in 1941 and while there, three other children were also born, Winston, Lee Gerald and Brenda Joyce. She worked in various factories and after her Husband passed in 1964 she did domestic work until she retired in 1974. She was a longtime, faithful member of New Progressive Missionary Baptist Church in Chicago until 1990 when she and her eldest Son Obbie, Jr. relocated to South Bend, Indiana. Her Sons Winston and Lee Gerald, soon thereafter joined her in South Bend, and after the death of her eldest Son, Obbie, Jr., Brenda Joyce joined her Mother and became her constant companion and caregiver.
After relocating to South Bend, she joined the ranks of New Salem Missionary Baptist Church under the leadership of Rev. John W. Arnold until 2012. While there, she was a faithful and active member. She was a member of the Nurses Guild, Mother’s Board and was also the New Members Class Instructor. In 2012 she was led of the Lord to follow her Pastor as he birthed the New Christian Tabernacle Ministry Church where she served as Church Mother and Assistant Sunday School Teacher, faithfully until her demise.
In 2004, Mother Edith Rathey obtained her High School Diploma from Stanford Career Institute at the age of 90. She constantly reminded anyone she met that “it’s never too late to learn.” In 2014, she received a letter of commendation from President Barak and Michelle Obama that was read to her in the presence of friends and family at her New Christian Tabernacle Church home on the eve of her 100th Birthday, Sunday, May 25th, 2014 and it was declared “Edith Rathey Day.”
She was a woman full of beauty, wisdom and grace. She was the epitome of what a Christian should be. She lived the life she spoke of so freely, and her greatest pleasure was leading people to Christ. She met no strangers and she shared love in abundance to everyone. She set the example for all who knew her of how to walk Holy. Mother Edith Rathey spent the majority of her life making herself ready to meet the Lord. She was excited to know that “He” promised her a home beyond the sky. Her favorite passage from the Bible is found in Philippians 1:23 which she quoted with great emphasis “For I am in a straight betwixt two, having a desire to depart, to be with Christ: which is “far better.” She often reminded her Church family, “Stay with the Lord, if you go before I do, I don’t want to look for you when I get there.”
She leaves to cherish her beautiful memory one Son, Lee Gerald and one Daughter, Brenda Joyce, both of South Bend, Indiana, 8 Grandchildren, 14 Great-Grandchildren, 3 Great-Great Grandchildren, a host of Nieces, Nephews, Cousins, her New Christian Tabernacle Church family, two special friends Vera Crayton and Annabelle Buckley and a host of other dear and loved friends.
She was preceded in death by her Husband, Obbie, Sr., 2 Sons, Obbie, Jr., and Winston, 1 Granddaughter, Cassandra, 1 Sister, Louella Robinson and 3 Brothers, Willie Watkins, Stanford Watkins and Leon Watkins.
Thank you Mother Rathey, we know where you are! We’re going to stay with the Lord……..and we’ll see you when we get there!