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Bessie Mae Tharp, age 88, passed away on August 8, 2019 at Kingston Care Center in Fort Wayne, Indiana. She was born on December 25, 1930 to the late Earl and Beatrice (Page) Chapman in Uniontown, Alabama. She spent her early years in Uniontown and was baptized at Hickory Grove Baptist Church. She moved to Fort Wayne with the family at the age of 11 and joined Pilgrim Baptist Church under the leadership of the late Rev. John Dixie.
Bessie attended Central High School in Fort Wayne. She married Tennyson W. Tharp in July 1949.
After the passing of her husband in 1963, Bessie began working outside the home. She later completed her education and began working at the Fort Wayne State Developmental Center where she was employed for 26 years until her retirement in 1992.
Bessie was active in the community and in the church serving as a missionary and in the Chancellor Choir in addition to various other choirs at Pilgrim Baptist Church. She was a active member of the Fort Wayne Urban League as well as the NAACP and as an executive member of the Hanna School PTA. During her retirement she served as a foster grandparent for East Wayne Head Start.
Bessie was widely known as a generous, nurturing and hard-working person. She had an infectious laugh and an energetic spirit that endeared her to everyone who knew her. She loved music and gardening and enjoyed both well into her later years. Most notably, Bessie loved her family, spending time with them at every opportunity. She humbly accepted the role of matriarch as Mom, Grandma Bessie, Aunt Bessie and Miss Bessie. Her legacy will continue because of her impact on the lives of everyone she touched.
She leaves to cherish her memory daughters, Linda M. (Clyde) Williams of Taylor, Michigan and Karen A. Tharp of Fort Wayne, Indiana; son, Donnell Z. (Kelly) Miller of Fort Wayne, Indiana; step-daughter, Sandra Snead of Detroit, Michigan; grandsons, Eric D. (Lanise) Williams of Belleville, Michigan, Brandon D. Williams of Atlanta, Georgia, Tyson Z. Miller of Fort Wayne, Indiana, Keegan J. Taylor of Fort Wayne, Indiana; granddaughter, Sidney N. Miller of Fort Wayne, Indiana; five great grandchildren, one great-great grandchild; sisters, Cora L. Clay of Honolulu, Hawaii, Beatrice Dansby of Fort Wayne, Indiana, Mary E. Jacobs of Silver Springs, Maryland, and Joyce (Al) Johns of Cleveland, Ohio; brothers, Edward J. Chapman of Minneapolis, Minnesota and Arbrey E. (A.C.) Chapman of Fort Wayne, Indiana.
She was preceded in death by her parents, Earl and Beatrice Chapman; husband, Tennyson W. Tharp; daughters, Janice K. Tharp and Iris Tharp; granddaughter, Tamara R. Williams; sister, Earlean Brooks and brother, Prince Chapman.