Born on March 6, 1930, to Walter David Edwards and Rosetta Edwards, Leonia Bell Shepherd, affectionately known as “Lee,” in Snow Hill, North Carolina. She was educated at the Greene County Training School. Snow Hill is where she met and married the love of her life Edgar Hampton Shepherd on April 14, 1950. They were married for 48 years until his heavenly departure in April of 1998. Together, they moved to Washington, DC in 1955 and began their new lives on Staples Street, NE. She decided to work at a movie theater to help save money for the house they purchased and lived in on 11th Street since 1958. She then became a full-time mother and homemaker where she raised her son, Alvin, and her daughter Joyce. Once Joyce was old enough to go to college, she briefly worked at St. Ann’s Infant’s Home where she formed life-long friendships. Once her first Granddaughter Cherie was born, she again sacrificed her career to become a full-time homemaker and help raise her.
She traveled to Okinawa with her husband and Cherie in 1971 for a year and to the Philippines for two years from 1980-1982. While in the Philippines, she and Edgar racked up an impressive collection of bowling and dart trophies. They went dancing frequently and enjoyed their life during their stay there. Upon their return, she resumed the role of full-time homemaker and helped raise and rear her second oldest Grandson, David. She enjoyed spending summers with her grandchildren when they were young and loved to coordinate outfits for the boys and the girls.
Lee decided early on that she was too young to be called Grandma and decided that “Ma-Ma,” would be more appropriate since she was 40 and fabulous when she became a Grandmother for the first time. She had an unbreakable bond with her sisters, Muriel, “Nell” and Hilda. Until her hearing problems prevailed, they talked on a daily basis.
She was an avid gardener and lined her front yard with roses and other flowers. She grew a host of vegetables and fruits in her back yard garden of strawberries, peaches, grapes, blueberries, apples, collards, cabbage, string beans, peppers, okra, cucumbers, tomatoes, sweet potatoes, and “turnip salad.” No matter what she did during the day, she almost always made sure to make it home in time to watch, The Young and the Restless. She's also known for her famous pound cake, her witty sense of humor, and her infamous sayings.
Leonia is survived by her two children; Alvin (Ruby) and Joyce; seven grandchildren; Cherie, Alethea aka “Nicki” (Ronald), Aaron (Rhoda), David, Andrew (Courtney), Ashly, and Alvin Jr. (JR); eleven great-grandchildren; Paige (Robert), Quentin, Olivia, Isaiah, Jaelyn, Cameron, Jabriel, Andrew, Jr., Channon, Layla and Carsyn; and one great-great-granddaughter, Riley. She is also survived by her sisters, Elnora Pernell Harper, Hilda Marie Farmer, and one brother Lewis Daniel Edwards and a host of nieces, nephews, great-nieces and nephews, family, friends, and long-time neighbors.
She was preceded in death by her husband Edgar, her sister Annie Muriel Taylor and her brothers, Walter Columbus and Willie James Irving Edwards, brothers in law, George Taylor, Carl Harper, her Sister-In-Law, Geraldine Edwards.
Love you, Mom. Miss you Ma Ma.
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