Bessie Ree Dickens
November 13, 1934 – April 22, 2021
Bessie Ree Dickens was born to the late Ollie and Marie Davis on November 13, 1934 in Whitakers, North Carolina. Bessie peacefully departed this life on Thursday, April 22, 2021 at the age of eight-six at home with her middle daughter at her side.
Bessie grew up working on a farm alongside her parents and siblings and though she loved school she didn’t get the opportunity to attend regularly or often and vowed at an early age to make educational opportunities a priority for any kids she ever had. She accepted Jesus Christ as her personal Lord and Savior at an early age at Shiloh Baptist Church in Whitakers, North Carolina. Growing up she had such a knack for doing hair that she not only did hers and family members but friends as well. As a young adult she talked her future husband, William Dickens into following her oldest brother, Oliver Davis to Washington, DC in 1956. Once working and settled he sent for her and she soon boarded a bus to join him. Upon arriving in Washington, DC she eventually found a job working at The Army and Navy Club in downtown DC where she worked for a short time until they married and started a family. She rejoined the workforce when the last of their seven children started school. She worked at a number of places including Frito Lay, a laundry and GSA before landing a job at The Washington Post in 1976 as an Office Cleaner where she remained until her retirement in 2002.
She and her husband eventually settled in the Trinidad area of Washington, DC where they would remain (except for a brief stay in Landover, Maryland) for over forty-five years. After her husband’s death in 2013 she relocated to Temple Hills, Maryland to be near her oldest daughter.
Bessie was a homebody whose favorite pastimes were visits and calls from family and friends. It was normal for her and her youngest sister, Odessa Sims to talk on the telephone multiple times a day every day. Calls and visits over the years from her deceased daughter’s friends were especially cherished. She also enjoyed “playing” her guitar while singing old time spirituals and cooking up a favorite dish for family. It was nothing for her to whip up a big pot of soup, chili or beans for her kids and then call them over to pick it up. She was famous among the grandkids and others for her cakes. Always remembering who preferred what type of cake and if they preferred it with or without icing. Often times sending them home with a whole cake while reminding them that they had better return her cake pan. Everyone knew Bessie didn’t play when it came to her plasticware.
She treasured the time spent with her grandkids many of whom despite working the night shift she babysat. The only hair braider in the family, grateful parents would often return to pick them up to find Bessie had plaited or corn rolled the hair of both the girls and the boys. When the grandkids were young, she’d have them all in stitches with reminders during shopping trips that they were not to call her “Grandma” but were to call her “Moochie” when out in public which of course they never did or tales of making up her own middle name because her parents hadn’t given her one or about how growing up, she could do anything on the farm that her brothers did and most times do it even better. She once shocked them all by going for a ride up the street on the back of her eldest grandson’s Kawasaki Ninja motorcycle!
Freddy Frog or Bessie Lou as she was affectionately nicknamed by her eldest son and son-in-law leaves to cherish her memory: daughters, Sylvia (Cordell, Sr), Vernell (William); sons, Larry, Sr. (Alecia), James (Gwen) and William, Jr (Denice); grandchildren, Ashley, Jessica, Najee, Markee, Sr, Karen Jean, Olivia, Janice, Larry, Jr., James, Shavonne, Sheritha and Tony; great grandson, Markee, Jr and sister, Odessa. She is also survived by a host of other relatives and friends. In addition to her husband William C. Dickens, she was also preceded in death by daughter, Janice (Pee-Wee); son, Clemmons, grandson, Cordell, Jr (Pork); granddaughter, Tasha; great grandson, Kolby; sister, Queen and brothers, Oliver, Nathaniel (Jimbo), Clifton and William Henry.