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Rowena Coraleeze Lillian Butts was born on September 6, 1938, to parents Coraleeze Porter and Thomas Andrew Butts. Originally named Coraleeze Lillian Butts after her mother, "Rowena" was added as her first name after her late Aunt Rowena's passing. Little Rowena joined a loving family, including three older brothers, Garland, Thomas, and Carlyle, and one older sister Juanyta. Then four years later, her youngest brother Barrington was born. Rowena spent her formative years in Richmond, VA, where she attended Richmond, VA, public schools. She graduated from Maggie L. Walker High School in 1957 and later went to Virginia Union University, where she received her Bachelor of Science in Mathematics in 1961. Although she didn't want to leave home after graduation, her mother encouraged her to accept a job in Washington D.C. She moved to Washington D.C. and began teaching at Terrell Junior High School. There she went on to marry her first husband and became a mom to Bonus daughter Lori Briscoe. In 1966, Rowena and her first husband welcomed their only child, Trena Coral-leeze Briscoe. By 1969, Rowena had divorced and shortly after met Harold L. Berry. Harold and Rowena married in 1971 and recently celebrated their Anniversary of 52 years. In 1972, the couple welcomed Harolyn Michelle and, with the growing family, moved from the Bowen Road apartments in SE to the current family home. Then In 1976, they welcomed Harold junior to the family.
Rowena taught Math to junior high students in grades 7-9 for 33 years before retiring in 1994. After a few years out of the workforce, she returned to her passion for educating at St. Margaret of Scotland Catholic School in Capitol Heights, Maryland. She taught Math part-time while two of her granddaughters, Desire' and Tristen, also attended this school. After three years at St. Margaret, Rowena taught at Our Savior's School in Forestville, MD, before deciding to join her husband, who had also retired in 2008.
Rowena loved to entertain and celebrate those close to her. Every event she hosted had to include stylish decorations and her favorite sweet appetizer - peanuts & mints. She was famous for her homemade yeast rolls. The verbal recipe was passed down from generation to generation. Family members looked forward to her delicious homemade bread at holidays and family gatherings. Rowena enjoyed caring for and spending time with her family and close friends.
She was a classy lady and a true southern belle. Rowena enjoyed attending church on Sunday mornings, wearing exquisite handmade hats and suits; she was always professionally dressed, and her favorite color was yellow. While her favorite singer was Harry Belafonte, her favorite genre of music was classical and instrumental. She enjoyed outings at the Kennedy Center to watch dance performances, plays, and operas. She also enjoyed traveling. As Rowena's health declined for the past eight years, she was mostly homebound. Her loving husband was her primary caregiver. Harold cared for his sweetheart until her final breath.
Rowena Coraleeze Lillian Butts Berry was called home on Thursday, March 23, 2023. She was 84 years old and is survived by her loving husband, Harold L. Berry, Sr.; three adult children, Trena C. Briscoe Matthews, Harolyn M. Brown, and Harold L. Berry, Jr.; six grandchildren, Desire' Nugent, Wayne "Eric" Matthews, II, Tristen Matthews, Destiny Brown, Damiyah Brown, and Winston Matthews and two great-grandchildren Kiyomi and Kyler Nugent; and her brothers Thomas Butts, Jr. and Carlyle Butts (Omeria). She is preceded in death by her parents, Thomas Andrew Butts, Sr. and Coraleeze Porter Butts, her older brother Garland Butts, her older sister Sylvia Juanyta Andres (Earl), her younger brother Barrington "BG" Butts (Marivic), niece Zemula Keel and nephew Michael Dickens. She leaves Bonus daughter Lori V. Briscoe, sister-in-law Marla Dickens (Michael), brother-in-law Stanley Foster, nieces and nephews Ariel J. Andres, Coralyn Andres Taylor (Peter), Yourena Hagen, Derrick A. Butts (Diane), Steve Douglass Pressley (Gaye), Karlton Christopher Butts (Kelly), Brian Butts (Nicole), Gregg Butts (Vaneese), Melody Butts, Manrico Butts, Melvin Dickens, several great nieces, and nephews; Godchildren Paige Exum, Raven Wilkins, and Faith Humbles; and bonus- grandchildren Lawrence Brown Jr and Daneisha Fleming. Rowena was also a Bonus Mother and Grandmother to Warren Matthews (preceded in death) and his family (Tammy, Warren Jr. Taylor, and Wesley). There are countless other family, friends, colleagues, and former students whose lives she touched.
Rowena will be dearly missed by us all.
Arrangements are as follows for Rowena Berry
Monday, April 10
Viewing: 10-11 am
Funeral Service: 11 am-12 pm
From the Heart Church Ministries
5055 Allentown Road Suitland, MD 20746
Lincoln Memorial Cemetery
4001 Suitland Rd
Suitland, MD 20746
St. Phillip the Apostle Social Hall 5414 Henderson Way, Camp Springs, MD 20746
Any flowers should arrive at 5055 Allentown Rd Suitland, Md on April 10 by 9 am.
Arrangements entrusted to John T Rhines Funeral Home