Nellie Mae Reaves (nee Glass) was born on May 13, 1929. She died on September 8, 2020 in her residence at the Menorah Park Skilled Nursing Care Residence in Beachwood, Ohio. She was 91 years old. The oldest daughter of Julian and Mamie Glass, Nellie grew up in Cleveland, Ohio where she attended the Cleveland Public Schools, including John Hay High School. Her late husbands Thomas Jackson and Dee Willie Reaves preceded Nellie in death.
Growing up in Cleveland as a young Black woman with children, life was not always easy. But Nellie always made the best of things. She always found a way. She worked hard for many years at the United States Navy Department, the United States Postal Service, and at J.B Robinson’s Jewelry. She made sure that her family wanted for little.
Though she never had an abundance of anything, Nellie shared everything that she had. She took tremendous pleasure from sharing and giving, and she basked in the joy that the recipients of her gifts experienced. Her generosity was a virtue. Holidays, especially Christmas, stand out as the times when Nellie was the happiest. Christmas morning was an especially joyous time as she would sit under the tree and distribute meticulously wrapped gifts to family members, calling out each persons name and waiting until they had opened their gift before proceeding to call the next name.
Nellie loved her family and her friends. She was a devoted daughter who never really left the nest, so to speak, choosing to live close to her parents until their deaths. And until her death her sister Minnie was a constant in her life, visiting and caring for her on almost a daily basis.
Nellie had a host of friends who will be saddened at the news of her passing and will miss her dearly. Many of her friends were in attendance at her 90th birthday celebration and will undoubtedly remember the joy that she exhibited as her friends and family sang happy birthday and wished her well.
When you live to be 91 you outlive most of your friends. Though most all of her lifelong friends preceded her in death, Nellie maintained a close relationship with Jane Smith, a friend of more than 50 years. She also adopted, unofficially, Valerie Calhoun, the daughter of her lifelong friend Betty Jones who passed several years ago.
A close second to the love that she had for family and friends was her love of sports, particularly Major League Baseball and especially the Cleveland Indians. Though she was a fan of the Cleveland Browns and the Cleveland Cavaliers, her first love was baseball, and her love for and knowledge of the game came, undoubtedly, from her father, Julian, who was a big baseball fan.
The last seven years of her life were spent as a resident of Menorah Park, and can best be described as seven wonderful years. At Menorah Park Nellie was well known and well liked. She was known for her lovely attire, her beautiful smile and the kindness that she showed to everyone. During the time that she spent at MP as it is known, she established new relationships, made new friends, and enjoyed the opportunities that assisted living provides, including organized trips to see the Indians play ball.
Nellie leaves a host of relatives and friends who loved her dearly, including two sons, Dr. Donald Julian Reaves (Dr. Deborah) of Lakewood Ranch, Florida and Edgartown, Massachusetts, and Michael Dewayne Reaves of Lakewood, Ohio; Grandson Marc Creach of Marco Island, Florida, Granddaughter Katherine Ross Reaves (Neal), of Brooklyn, New York, Granddaughter Jasmine Reaves of Lakewood, Ohio, and Grandson Michael Reaves Jr. of Lakewood, Ohio; Great Granddaughter Audrey Isabel Reaves Gorka and Great Grandson Julian Alexander Reaves Gorka, both of Brooklyn, New York. As noted Nellie is survived by her sister Minnie Cruce of Shaker Heights, Ohio and her nephew Mark Cruce (Cindi) of Washington, D.C.
Nellie’s Mother and grandmother introduced her to the church at a young age. She was baptized at the Second Metropolitan Baptist church, her mother’s church home. Later in life she joined the Good Shepard Baptist Church where she remained a member until her passing.
When it is safe to travel and to gather a memorial service will be held so that the relatives and friends of Nellie Reaves might celebrate her life.
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