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It is with heavy hearts that we bid farewell to a true beacon of strength, wisdom, grace, and class. A Matriarch whose indelible mark on her world is enduring as her spirit was vibrant. Lillie Christine Bradford Garner, born as the eldest of four children to Willis and Fannie Bradford in Ensley, Alabama. Born January 25, 1929, into an era that presented challenges, Lillie confronted the barriers of her life with the aids of artistry, education, and spirituality.
Lillie confessed Christ at an early age and attended Mount Ararat Baptist Church to begin her Faith Walk. Her relationship with Christ carried her to a 50 plus year Service and Membership Journey with Bethany Baptist Church of Cleveland. For education, she attended Council Elementary and A.H. Parker High School before enrolling in Alabama State University. It was her artistry in several areas that distinguished Lillie as a true Force of Nature. Lillie married her childhood sweetheart, Cleveland Garner and to this lovely union, 6 children were born.
Lillie's initial artistry was her culinary skill in the kitchen, where she assumed the mantle of Top Chef for her parents' and siblings' daily meals. An extraordinary cook made mealtime a great joy for all who were privileged to sit at her table. Cooking translated to sewing where her nimble fingers transformed bolts of cloth into wearable art. From elegant gowns to everyday wear, her creations were more than just clothes, they were statements of identity and self-expression.
Learning to play the piano provided the rhythm of music for her soundtrack of life. Cleveland and Lillie could often be found stepping lightly to the songs of the day. Next up, sketching and drawing - encouraging generations of young people to experience the joys of artistic expression. As an artist, she painted the canvass of her life with hues of passion and ingenuity, reflecting the richness of her experiences and the depths of her spirit.
Lillie was an active participant in sports. An avid golfer with precision and bowler with finesse, she exemplified that age was no barrier to pursuing one's passions with zest and determination. It was in the support of her tribe that Lillie shined the brightest. Traveling and spending time with her family in support of their pursuits-athletically, academically, socially. Lillie was a Gracious Believer in the Ministry of Presence, rarely missing any significant events.
Perhaps most profoundly, Lillie (AKA, Diamond 'Lil) was a Teacher in the truest sense of the word. Diamond Lil illuminated the minds of countless students and athletes. She instilled in them a love for learning, a passion for excellence, and an unshakable belief in themselves. Not being restricted to four walls, the world was her classroom where she shared her kindness and knowledge. Lillie constantly planted seeds of ambition, integrity, and self-worth.
As we bid farewell to this Queen of creativity, resilience, and wisdom, let us not mourn her passing but celebrate the enduring legacy she leaves behind. Lillie's life was a masterpiece, a symphony, a tapestry of accomplishment and a testament to her powers of passion, perseverance, with an unshakable belief in the possibilities for brighter tomorrows.
Awaiting her for the Eternal Family Reunion is her beloved husband, her parents, three siblings Willis Jr., Eunice, and Alberta, and her two oldest children Cleveland Jr, and Cheryl Ann (James). Among those carrying on her Legacy are two daughters, Carolyn, and Cynthia (Rodney) in Birmingham Alabama, two sons, Carey, Arlington Texas (Marilyn) and Carlton, Cleveland Ohio (Wanda). 12 Grandchildren, 10 Great Grandchildren, 2 Great, Great Grandchildren and a full complement of nieces, nephews, cousins and friends.