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Ozella Tyree, the daughter of Edwin Hall and Estella Fulgham Hall was born on May 30, 1937, in Eutaw, Alabama. From that union she was the sixth of nine children. She was introduced to Christ at an early age and attended Christian Light Presbyterian Church in Eutaw Alabama with her family. She loved attending school, excelled in math, and played basketball.
She met the love of her life, J.D. in October of 1953 on a Sunday afternoon at the Hook Movie Theatre in downtown Eutaw; she was sixteen and he was fifteen. The rest is history. After graduating from Eatman High School, Zell migrated North to Cleveland, Ohio and lived with her brother William and sister-in-law Virginia. She and J.D. were married on July 6th, 1957, in a small home ceremony. They relocated to Chicago Heights, where they lived for one year and returned to Cleveland in 1958. To their union were born three daughters: Agatha (Gathy), Bonita (Bonnie) and Cynthia (Cyn). Their 66 years of marriage was truly a love for the ages.
Zell, as she was affectionately known, secured a position with the then local grocery chain, Pick-N-Pay on Hough Avenue (later known as Finast) as a cashier. She survived the Hough Riots going to work in the 1960’s. She loved her position serving others and excelled in customer service. Her work ethic was instrumental in securing her later promotion as one of the first African American head cashiers in the grocery chain, working in the office and balancing the cash drawers. She was also instrumental in securing first jobs for many of her nieces and nephews. She retired in August of 1993 after 35 years of outstanding and dedicated service.
She was personable and popular with a great sense of humor, including doing great impersonations. She had the gift of making everyone feel special and cared for; visiting nursing homes, purchasing clothes for children in need and lending an ear to those needing counsel. As a financial wiz, she knew how to stretch a dollar and was the family coupon queen. She loved gardening (both flowers and vegetables) and giving away her prized cherry tomatoes.
Zell loved all things family. Although she worked full-time, she made sure J.D. had three square meals a day, including a packed lunch with his huge coffee thermos. That is why she was affectionately called “Lola” by her husband, because “Whatever Lola wants Lola gets,” he often quipped. She was known for her sweet potato pies and banana puddings. Thanksgiving was her favorite holiday, and the Tyree home was one of the main hubs for family gatherings after church, holiday dinners, Easter Egg hunts and just because you were in the area. The door was always open, literally. Together with J.D., they were given a hospitality award from the family. She LOVED all her siblings and helped them and their children whenever they needed it. She was a fierce defender of her family and believed in justice.
As a mother, Zell was loving, supportive, protective, instructive, yet firm and wanted her girls to succeed in life. She encouraged them to pursue higher education and supported their goals and endeavors. She made sure her daughters wanted for nothing. As a grandmother, all rules went out the window and this is what made her so loving and fun. She instilled a foundation of faith, made sure their favorite foods were readily available and did whatever she could to make her grandchildren happy.
She and J.D. first joined Starlight Baptist Church. Afterwards, she was an active member of Lee Seville Baptist Church for nearly 30 years, singing in the senior choir and was a member of the Missionary Society before becoming a member of Affinity Missionary Baptist Church. At Affinity, she graduated from their Four Year Systematic Bible Study Program and served with the mission’s house team, meeting the needs of homeless families alongside her husband. This ministry allowed her to be the hands and feet of Christ up until her illness in 2011. As a lover of the Lord, she extended that same love to her church family. She was generous with her time, advice, and wise counsel.
Ozella Tyree entered eternal rest on Wednesday, November 15, 2023. She was preceded in death by her parents, brothers Horace and Thornton Hall, and brothers-in-law: Napolean Morrow, Earl McKinney, and Charlie Harris. Ozella leaves to cherish her memory, her husband of 66 years, J. D. Aldridge Tyree, three daughters: Agatha Tyree (Goldsboro, North Carolina), Bonita Tyree and Cynthia Murph, granddaughter Brittany Franklin (Kalif) (Whitsett, North Carolina), grandsons: Brandon Williams (Denver, Colorado), Andrew Bailey (Miami, Florida) and Daniel Bailey (Boston, Massachusetts) and two great-grandchildren: Kalif Franklin Jr. and Nalah Franklin. Brother: William Hall, (sister-in law -Virginia Hall). Sisters: Arlillian Morrow, Ruby Hall Harris, Mary Hall, Candis J. H. McKinney and Cleosene Johnson (Woodrow), special friends: Sarah Fulgham, Phyllis and John Tyson and her cherished nieces, nephews, and friends.