Wednesday, February 11, 2015

The Legacy of Prince Estella Melson Lee of St. Helena Parish, Louisiana

Queen Mother Prince Estella Melson Lee 
Prince Estella Melson Lee was born Thursday, April 5, 1917 in Greenburg, Louisiana to the late David and Lillian Melson, and went from earth to glory at East Jefferson General Hospital on Friday, January 16, 2015, 5:10 p.m.

Prince was the sixth of thirteen children: twelve born to David and Lillian, and one born to David and "Pinky". Prince received what their father called a " fingernail of learnin" from St. Helena School where she attended until third grade learning to read and write. She even said she would walk and cry," ...just to get that lil' learning'. At St. Helena Baptist Church. Prince gave her life to Christ at the age of twelve and was baptized by the late Reverend M.P. Knox. She then began her work in Christ's kingdom, spending many decades available for the Lord's use.

At the age of thirteen, after the death of her mother, Prince and her brother, Vernell, became responsible for their youngest brother. David, and reared the youngest child, Pearl Marie. During this time, Prince developed a very close and loving relationship with step-mother, "Pinky." On February 26, 1939, Prince married Herbert Lee-they were the parents of eleven children, two deceased infancy. After marrying, Prince relocated to Mississippi and united with Mount Pilgrim Baptist Church under pastorship of the late Reverends Walter Martin and James R. Lewis. She often expressed sentiments about leaving her home church, St. Helena; nevertheless, she served faithfully at Mount Pilgrim, and in her home as devoted Christian wife and mother ensuring that her children  were loved, cared for, and raised in the fear and admonition of the Lord. Prince, with her husband Herbert, lived a life with Jesus Christ as the center. This was reflected through reciting a scripture verse after saying grace, her being " Jesus wept"; attending Sunday School and Pastoral Sunday Worship service; studying Sunday school lessons around the fireplace and listening to the Gospel Hours on the radio; and doing no work on Sundays. 
Letter from Southern Poverty Law Center

Prince lived the scripture, " Remember the Sabbath, to keep it holy". She aided in laying the same Christian foundation for her children as was laid for her by her parents. Her children can attest that she could praise the Lord all by herself; she worshipped the Lord as much in her home as she did in the sanctuary. In her home, Prince was often heard saying part of scriptures such as, "Jesus wept" and "The Lord is my shepherd", as well as singing hymns, a favorite being " Jesus, Hold My Hand While I Run This Race".

In 1961, Prince became a widow after the assassination of her husband, Herbert. Even in the midst of the this sudden tragedy,  a farm to maintain, and six children at home to raise. Prince's faith never wavered; she continued to spiritually guide and teach her children. She became a member of the Eastern Star, and continued her life and service in Mississippi until 1972 when she relocated to Kenner, Louisiana.

Prince became a member of St. Michael Missionary Baptist Church under the pastorship of Reverend Leroy Sander, Sr. She dutifully served on the Deaconess Board, and in 1982, she was appointed President, and office she served with joy and great commitment until 2004. In the late 1990s, Reverend Sanders appointed her Mother of the Church and she felt it was a great honor when asked.

Letter from SNCC
Prince throughly enjoyed being an active member of the East Jefferson Prayer and Bible Band. She took much joy out of using her well-known and well-worn black and white composition books to call the Prayer Band members as a reminder of an upcoming meeting. Prince took every opportunity to return to St. Helena's Revival in August and to Mount Pilgrim's May Rally, and Revival in September. She loved returning to her childhood home in Louisiana, as well ago Mississippi to the homestead established with her husband and children. When Prince visited the Mississippi homestead, she could often be found deep in thought while walking the land. If asked about what she was thinking. Prince would smile and simply say, " Oh...nothing, just thinking" or " just thinking about a hard we worked and how the Lord blessed us." Telling stories of her childhood and courtship with Herbert were some of Prince's much loved memories to share.

Some other favorites that she enjoyed were quilting and making tams (caps) for the Deaconess Board,as well as sitting in her favorite chair and reading her Bible. Prince was a 'people person" who never met a stranger; and, whether on the phone or in person, she truly enjoyed good conversation. She as a great sense of humor and would laugh at herself while retelling and acting out the stories of the ' by gone-days". Some of her favorite dishes to cook were and chicken and dumplings and chicken pies. And, Prince will always be well-known for her tea cakes, which she frequently backed for her family and friends.

Prince was preceded in death by her parents, David and Lilian; siblings, A.V., Felbert, Ralph, Willie, Mitchell, Vernell, Callie-Mae, David, and Elizabeth; her husband, Herbert, children, Christine, David, Bessie Mae, and Ray Curtis, and grandchildren, Erhen T. Lee, Lynn Marie Lee-Vinnett, and Aaliyah A. Riley.

Thank you Queen Mother Prince for the legacy that you left for all humanity. I will continue to teach our youth about the importance of becoming a register voter and why they should get out and vote.