Bessie Louise Carolyn Davis was born in Durham, North Carolina on December 3, 1936. She was the third child of five born to Robert L. Davis, Sr. and Mozelle Alston Davis. The family moved to Philadelphia, Pennsylvania when Bessie was four. She received her education in the Philadelphia School System.
Bessie married her high school sweetheart Gene Orlandro Russell on February 8, 1954 in Elkton, Maryland. Five children were born to this union: Keith, Eugenia (also known as Cookie), Sean, Talsania O’Dom, and Tasha.
Bessie stopped at nothing to provide the best for all of her children. She taught her eldest and youngest daughter to be independent ensuring they would always have the best life had to offer, championing education. Eugenia attended both private schools and Gimbel’s charm school while Tasha attended catholic schools. In fact, Bessie used to always joke that Tasha was forever getting an education. As a young mom, Bessie was not afraid to jump in with her son’s extracurricular activities, like becoming a Den Mother when Keith was active with the Boy Scouts of America. She encouraged Sean and Dom to be entrepreneurial. Bessie taught all of her children with her strong work ethic, instilling in them to be determined to finish what they start.
Bessie was an avid sports enthusiast. She was a huge fan of the Philadelphia 76ers, Eagles, Phillies and even the Flyers. She enjoyed traveling around the world with her sisters and friends, dubbed “the birthday club.” However, Bessie’s true passion was her love for the Lord. When she wasn’t in a physical church as an evangelist, Bessie spread the word of God wherever she went. She was a member of New Gethsemane Baptist Church, Mt. Moriah, Holy Trinity, and Gatekeepers. To know Bessie was to know Christ’s words. Her parting salutation often included asking the Lord to bless and keep you. She brought many, many souls to Christ with her gentle and kind teachings. Bessie liked to write and would fill notebooks with scripture and thoughts. She was not forceful and did not use scriptures as a weapon. That was her power. She has instilled that legacy into not just her children, but their children, as well.
Bessie was diagnosed with ovarian cancer in 2018. She fought the disease courageously with her family constantly by her side. On Friday, September 25, 2020 at 7:51am, she was called from this life to join her parents, sisters Doris Jean Courtney and Barbara Robinson, and her brothers Robert Davis, Jr. and Kenneth Davis.
She leaves to cherish her memory her husband Gene, her children Keith (Cynthia Russell), Eugenia (Trent Hargrove), Sean (Cheryl Russell), Talsania O’Dom, and Tasha, her grandchildren Rian Russell, Channing Hargrove, and Tyler Hargrove, her great grandchildren Kayla Russell, Isaiah Hart, and McKenzie Hart, her goddaughters Pat Heffner and Glenda Vaughn, and a host of prayer warriors, friends and family who will all greatly miss her.
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