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Evelyn Leake, 96, witnessed many historic American moments

Oralandar Brand-Williams
The Detroit News

Evelyn Leake was able to bear witness to some of the most historic moments in America, ranging from the Great Depression to the election of the country's first black president, Barack Obama.

Evelyn Leake

Mrs. Leake, a Detroit resident, died Sunday, Jan. 26, 2020. She was 96.

A native of Williston, Tennessee, Mrs. Leake was the youngest of seven children. Her family later moved to Eads, Tennessee, where she met her future husband, Edward Leake, after finishing school. 

After marrying in 1942, the couple moved to Detroit on Thanksgiving Day in 1944. Edward Leake, who was a tool-and-die maker, came to Detroit  with his wife seeking career opportunities.

Mrs. Leake worked at the Fort Street Realty Co. for nearly two decades as an elevator operator. In her leisure time, she traveled, which included vacations to Hawaii and the Caribbean Islands. But Mrs. Leake's family said her best memories were of her family and their accomplishments.

“Her love for her family was often expressed through her generous giving spirit, embroidery and baking " said Mrs. Leake's family in a statement. "Homemade dinner rolls, apple pie and egg custard were just a few of her family favorites."  

Mrs. Leake's grandson, Terrien Leake said: “I had my daughter spend a day at Granny’s house just so she could learn to make my favorite egg custard pie.”

Mrs. Leake and her family worshiped under the late Rev. C.L. Franklin as members of New Bethel Baptist Church in Detroit before the family joined People's Missionary Baptist Church under the ministry of the late Rev. Charles H. Nicks Sr. in 1956, the family said. 

A member of the Senior Choir, Mrs. Leake regularly attended services until her health prevented her from regular church-going.

"She will be remembered as a graceful woman," said her son, Edwin Leake. "She would always tell people, 'I love you, I love you, I love you.' She said it three times."

Edwin Leake said his mother was always giving to others, whether it was clothing or food. He said her favorite charity was the Capuchin Kitchen in Detroit.

Preceded in death by her husband, Edward, and daughters, Doris and Armena, in addition to her son, Mrs. Leake is survived by son Anthony; and a daughter, Sandra. 

Her daughter-in-law said Mrs. Leake not only was her mother-in-law but a mother figure. Mrs. Leake and Barbara Leake’s mother were friends.

"I called her my mother; she was just a wonderful lady," said Barbara Leake. "The way she lived was exemplary. She set an example to follow. She helped me to be hopefully a good mother-in-law. She liked and loved me from the first day we met."

Barbara Leake added: "She loved her family. Her grandchildren, her great-grandchildren. You can tell by the response (she got) ... people visited her and sent her cards." 

Visitation is 4-8 p.m. Thursday at O.H. Pye III Funeral home, 17600 Plymouth Road, in Detroit. The funeral is scheduled for 11 a.m. Friday at People's Missionary Baptist Church, 3000 McDougall Street in Detroit.

bwilliams@detroitnews.com

(313) 222-2027