Ethel Lean was born on January 29, 1931, in Selma, Alabama to Samuel and Lucy Dunham West. At a very early age Ethel accepted Christ and was baptized at New Hope Baptist Church. Ethel’s family relocated to Birmingham where she attended Hudson Grade School and Carver High School. She met and married her first husband, Lenell Means, in 1947 (he preceded her in death). During their union there were four children:Lenell Jr., Tracey, Anthony and Donald.
In 1963 Ethel and her children relocated to Portland, Oregon to join her siblings who had relocated several years prior. Upon relocating to Portland, Ethel and family joined New Jerusalem Baptist Church under the leadership of Rev. Jeff Sanders. Due to illness Rev. Sanders could no longer continue his pastoral duties and New Jerusalem became St. Mark Baptist Church under the leadership of Rev. E. C. Wilder. Ethel served many happy years on the church’s decorating and hospitality committees. She was an awesome cook and the dishes she prepared for special church events rarely made it to the table, because the pastor’s daughters would always hide the dishes she prepared so they could take them home. She loved gospel music and her favorite gospel artist was Shirley Caesar and one of her favorite songs was “Jesus I Love Calling Your Name.” She also loved the word of God and studied her bible consistently.
Upon relocating to Portland Ethel worked numerous jobs to support her family, but her favorite by far was her job at Tektronix where she made circuit boards for computers. Ethel loved gardening and grew her own vegetables every summer – she truly had a “green thumb.” Ethel loved sports, her main sport was baseball and while in Birmingham she coached the neighborhood girls’ softball team.
Ethel could have been a perfumer because she had quite the nose. She even invented her own special scent. Everyone who smelled her special perfume loved it and wanted to know what fragrance it was. Ethel never shared her secret and would only share her perfume with her sister and daughter.
Ethel married LeRoy Edgar Curry in 1974 (he preceded her in death) they had many happy years together. Ethel would later make her home with her daughter and two grandsons. They shared wonderful years together and many of Ethel’s grandsons’ achievements can be attributed to her daily presence in their lives. She remained with her daughter until declining health prevented her from doing so.
Ethel was the matriarch of her family and whenever there was a problem to be solved, she was the one friends and family alike would always seek out for her wise counsel. Ethel was a very loving protective mother.Her family was her world and she would go to the ends of the earth to care, provide and protect them.
In addition to her husbands, Ethel was preceded in death by her father and mother Sam and Lucy West, her baby sister Alfanna Bailey, her grandson Donald Means, Jr. and her dear cousin Samuel Dunham.
She leaves to cherish her memory her sister Annie Hargrove and brother James West.
She leaves to continue her legacy her children Lenell (Mary), Tracey (Harvey), Anthony (Onnie), Donald (Rhonda); grandchildren Dionne, Lenell III (Kayla), Monique, Derrick (Yesmin), Ethen (Donna), Erik (Lane), Ebony, Malcolm and Leelee; great grandchildren Raven, Evontae, Donisha, Ja’Vurae, Kennedy, Injae, Sade, Mizael, Tathen, Moses, Tatiana, Larry, Ethen Jr. and Laila; great-great grandchildren Tanisha, Leonard and a host of nieces, nephews and cousins.
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