Doris Ruth Howard-Harris affectionately called “Sistah” or “Big Ma”,was born on the fifth day of August in 1937 to John Essex Howard and Louise (Moore) Howard in Acmar, Alabama. Doris’s birth completed this family of four, joining her brother John Essex Howard Jr. (Pete).
The family moved to Fort Wayne from Birmingham in 1948. Settling in the Clay and Harmar Street area, the family joined Pilgrim Baptist Church shortly after relocating here. A faithful and true believer in God, Doris was an active church member singing in the choir in her early teen years. Doris attended Harmar School and Central High School before graduating from South Side High School in 1956.
Doris united in holy matrimony with Eddie L. Harris on June 24, 1956. They lived in the Westfield area before moving to their home on Woodview. Their union brought forth six children: Marcia, Edward, RoLonda, Gayle, Eric and J. Michael.
Doris worked for many years as a medical receptionist for Dr. Caesar L Marshall. After his death, Doris stayed home and raised her children while providing daycare for neighboring children for many years. Doris was often the surrogate parent or grandparent for many of the neighborhood children, becoming affectionately known as “Big Ma” denoting the motherly stature she held in their lives.
Doris was consulted and revered for her fashion and stylish sense; she would turn heads at every event, from the yearly Ebony Fashion Show, gospel concerts and plays, to Sunday church service - Doris was one of the best dressed on the scene. She never met a “bad hat” that she didn’t buy!
Doris always thanked God for her “devils” and a wonderful life, never wanting for anything as she would say. She loved the close relationships she held with her children, grandchildren, bonus children and longtime friendships.
Left to cherish her memory are her husband of 65 years Eddie; her daughters, RoLonda and Gayle; her sons, Eric and J. Michael. Her daughter-in-law, Robin Harris. Her grandchildren: Courtney Sr., Candace, Elicia, Renauld Sr. (Renee), Edward Jr. (Stephany), RaeVynn, Elaena, Emon’ and Evan. Her great grandchildren: Courtney Jr., Charisma, Deja’, Marissa, DaVonce, Renauld Jr., Raelin, Edward III, Ryleigh, Emery and DeMarcus, and one great-great granddaughter, Jaida Harris. Her sister, Susan Howard; her brother, James (Willodean) Howard. Nieces: Cynthia Stewart, Zandra Davis, Jaquelyn Howard, and Tira Davenport; in-laws, Ernest and Mary Kate Woods and Josephine Oakes; close friends and relatives:Carlean Howard-McAfee, Carrie Lou Wallace, Mabel Vinson, Cle and Angela Boyd, Minnie Edwards, Alice Hall, Gale Moorer, LouNetta Moss, Margaret Miller, Kelly Brooks, Christee Griffin-Mays and her goddaughter Mary Ann Govan Williams.
Welcoming Doris to heaven on Sunday morning, January 24, 2021, were her daughter, Marcia; her son, Edward Sr.; her parents, Louise and John Essex Howard, Sr.; her brother and sister-in-law, John Essex Howard Jr and Dorothy Wade Howard; sister-in-law, Eva Hawes; niece, Tracy Lynn Howard and her childhood friends, Ramona and Jettie Govan, JoAnn Bolton, Lucille Rogers-Grundy and Edna Wells-Denard.
Ms. Doris will be laid to rest in Lindenwood Cemetery.
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