December 8, 2020
A Time to be Born Leola Graham Linnen, was born in Savannah, Georgia on October 29, 1933 to the loving White family of Beaufort County, South Carolina She was raised and nurtured though out her formative years by her Grandmother Judy, Uncle Matlon and Aunt Jannie Weese White, and parents, Ephrom and Lottie White. After 87 years of life, in the early morning of December 8, 2020, Leola peacefully slipped away into eternal rest. Early Years Leola grew up on Hanover and Line Streets in Charleston, South Carolina. She attended Charleston’s Henry P. Archer Elementary School, and graduated from Burke Industrial High School. At an early age, Leola joined Jerusalem Baptist Church of Charleston, S.C. (Rutledge Avenue). At Jerusalem, she accepted the Lord Jesus Christ as her personal Savior, and was baptized. Jerusalem Baptist Church served as Leola’s nurturing ground for teaching and singing the Word of God, and, her young melodious voice was a powerful presence in Jerusalem’s Junior & Young Adult Choirs. It was at Jerusalem where Leola rendered her first solo, “God will Take Care of You.” Beyond singing in the choir, Leola was an active Jerusalem member who developed a fervor for representing the Lord Jesus Christ with zeal and excellence. Leola continued to serve at Jerusalem in various ministries but her deep passion was teaching in the Youth department of the Church’s Sunday School. She was also an outstanding Class Reader in the Baptist Young People’s Union Department. Migrating North In the mid 1950’s, right at the beginning of the Civil Rights Movement, Leola’s mother urged her to move to New York. Upon settling into New York’s city culture, Leola joined Second Canaan Baptist Church in Harlem under its late pastor, Reverend John P. Ladson. At Second Canaan, Leola served God through her melodious “Canary-like” voice and teaching in the Sunday School. She later answered the call to Mission service at Second Canaan, and went on to serve in leadership positions during her 60-year membership that include, President of the Missionary Ministry, Dorcas Society, and Matrons; Servant Leader of The New Disciples Ministry, Chair of The Board of Christian Education, Sunday School Teacher for Youth, Young Adults and Adults; Church Anniversary and Women’s Ministry Chair, and member of the Pulpit Committee. Her member affiliation at Second Canaan spanned five decades of ministerial leadership, and her Ministry as a Missions Workshop Facilitator was widely requested by Pastors throughout New York City across forty years. The Joy of Her Life According to her children, Persephonie, Lawrence, and Naomi Graham, and granddaughter Lauren, Leola was, without question, the Best Mother/Grandmother Ever! In 1973, Leola met and married the late Jonathon Linnen of Teaneck, New Jersey. She and her family settled in at 12 Lerome Place, and it was at this residence that Leola became a Home Decorator par excellence. Leola Linnen was also an excellent cook, who could burn in the Kitchen. On holidays, friends and family would stop by 12 Lerome Place for a plate of Leola’s delicious Macaroni & Cheese and Candied Yams! A Virtuous Woman Leola was indeed a Virtuous Woman. In addition to her faithful work in the church, she was an accomplished seamstress who designed made wedding gowns and fine dresses for First Ladies. She could also sing like a bird and was featured in numerous concerts around New York State as a dramatic soloist. Leola loved serving in the Sanctuary Choir at Second Canaan, and her love for music led her to join the world famous Ebony Ecumenical Ensemble (directed by Dr. Bettye Forbes). Leola’s professional career began in the early 1960’s at The New York Telephone Company (Ma Bell now Verizon). While working at the Telephone Company she also sold Tupperware, Avon, Sarah Coventry Jewelry, and in the evening worked at Gimbel’s Department Store. After retiring from Verizon in 1993, Leola began working at Cokesbury Religious Book Store in Teaneck. Pressing On the Upward Way After fervent prayer and seeking guidance from the Holy Spirit, in March 2017, Sister Linnen joined The Abyssinian Baptist Church in the City of New York under the pastorate of Reverend Dr. Calvin O. Butts, III. Leola faithfully attended Abyssinian’s Sunday worship services, and the Monday Noon-Day Bible Study. Of Abyssinian she would often say, “I Love my Church and my pastor!” Every Sunday, rain or shine, Leola Linnen and her sister Catherine, could be found in the pews of Abyssinian, praising the Lord with great enthusiasm. May The Work I've Done Speak for Me Leola Linnen rendered diligent service to the United Missionary Baptist Association and its branch of Christian Education for over 50 years. She was introduced to United Missionary Baptist Association in the mid 1960’s and quickly “advanced through the ranks.” In UMBA, Sister Linnen served two-terms as President of the Women’s Auxiliary. She was also an instructor of UMBA’s Leadership School. She was most proud of her Teaching training under the tutelage of late Horatio Hill, Reverend Randolph Thompson, Pearl Tuthill, Annie Mae Robinson, and Lottie B. Heath. Ministers throughout New York City area and beyond have shared that they were spiritually nurtured and biblically enriched by Leola Linnen’s Sunday School and Bible instruction. On the State level, Leola Linnen served in The Empire Baptist Missionary Convention as 1st Vice President of the Women’s Auxiliary. For several years she worked with EBMC’s former Women’s Auxiliary leaders: Clovis Drake, Gloria Jones, Mary Webster, Gertrude Ulmer, and Iley Wallace. The EBMC Shoe Rally was a “special joy” for Leola Linnen as she enthusiastically led fund-raising activities to “up the ante” to surpass previous year’s amounts. Sister Linnen believed that the EBMC Women’s Auxiliary Shoe Rally was a wonderful fellowship for “RAISING FUN and FUNDS!” On the National level, Sister Linnen loved traveling to The National Baptist Convention, USA. Inc. annual gathering in September with her sisters in Christ. During “the convention,” she was always front and center at the Women in White session representing the Women’s Auxiliaries of Empire Baptist Missionary Convention and United Missionary Baptist Association. Forever committed to God’s work and His will for her life, Sister Linnen’s mantra was unwavering, “If I can help somebody as I pass along, then my living will not be in vain.” Leola Linnen will always be remembered as a zealous yet humble Servant in the Lord’s Vineyard. She was an awesome woman of God who inspired generations to live their best life for the cause of Christ. Well Done Thou Good and Faithful Servant An inimitable mother, Grandmother, Sister, Friend, Auntie, Educator, Servant of the Most High God and mentor, Leola Linnen is survived by family and friends who will forever Cherish her in Memory. They include, three loving children, Persephonie Graham, Lawrence Graham (Juanita), and Naomi Lee Graham. One Grandchild, Lauren Graham; Sisters, Catherine McPherson (Bronx, NY), and Dolly Brenda Myers (S.C.); Connie Williams (Eddie), and all of her sisters and brothers with whom she was raised in the White Family; Three nephews: Jerome McPherson (Cynthia), Marion McPherson, and Michael McPherson (Michelle); Grand-nieces and nephews, among the large number, her beloved Xaviera, Ara, Candice and Carlton. Great-grand nieces and nephews, a host of cousins, family and friends “back home” in Charleston, S.C. and “In the Country”(Yemasee, S.C.); The Spencer Family; The Abyssinian Baptist Church Family, The Second Canaan Baptist Church Family, Special Friend, Sally Ann Ladson; Her “Girl” from Charleston, S.C.; Beloved co-laborers of The United Missionary Baptist Association, and The Empire Baptist Missionary Convention; and a whole host of friends all over the country who were touched by the light of her spirit.
A Time to be Born Leola Graham Linnen, was born in Savannah, Georgia on October 29, 1933 to the loving White family of Beaufort County, South Carolina She was raised and nurtured though out her formative years by her Grandmother Judy, Uncle... View Obituary & Service Information
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