Etta Margaret Mack Spellman transitioned into eternal glory with our Lord and Savior Dec. 6. She was a longtime resident and pillar in the Riverhead community and a member of Riverhead and Southampton Churches of Christ for over 50 years. Her Christianity and her family were the backbone of her life. Margaret was a Sunday school teacher, youth counselor, Ladies Day coordinator, Bible class facilitator, youth group representative for the Easternnaires and proud member of the Soul Singers Choral Group at Riverhead Church of Christ.Margaret was born Oct. 14, 1933, in Darlington, S.C., to Walter Mack and Versella Ham. She was predeceased by her loving husband of 60 years, William S. Spellman Sr., daughter Veronica Spellman Johnson, son John Mack Spellman, 12 siblings and grandsons Ernest Johnson and Jailyn Price.
Margaret was the youngest of 13 children raised in Hartsville, S.C., and was educated through the Darlington County Public School System. She enjoyed playing basketball, as she was one of the starting players on her high school basketball team. Margaret was a scholar who had a love for science, math, English, the choir and home economics. Also, she always enjoyed singing in the choir and being an active member at Lawson Grove Baptist Church in Hartsville.
As a result of her outstanding academic progress, Margaret graduated from the historic Butler High School in 1951 and was immediately selected to attend Bethune Cookman University’s Educational and Industrial Training School for nursing. Margaret received her vocational certificate in nursing and began working in South Carolina. She always wanted to be a nurse and to help people with their health care needs.
After working for some years in South Carolina, Margaret decided to move to New York with her older siblings. Margaret’s cousin, jazz legend Ella Johnson, wanted her to sing with her group at the Savoy Ballroom in Harlem, N.Y., and she did for a short period of time. It was Margaret’s voice that helped to make the No. 1 ballad, ”Since I Fell for You,” a song that trended throughout the United States and abroad.
Margaret continued to utilize her nursing skills in the Bronx to support her relatives in both New York and South Carolina. She worked as a nurse and a file clerk for a local nursing facility and a housekeeper at the Hilton Hotel in Manhattan.
Soon after Margaret’s arrival in New York, she met the love of her life, William S. Spellman Sr., and they married Sept. 2, 1956. Margaret and Bill, as they were affectionately known, lived in the Bronx for over 15 years until they acquired a better way of life for their growing family in Riverhead. Margaret worked as a seamstress in a local dress shop until a nursing position became available in Riverhead. She continued to enhance her health care skills and decided to work as a volunteer with Riverhead Volunteer Ambulance Corps. Margaret was the first African American to become a volunteer emergency medical technician with the RVAC. She worked as a volunteer for over 10 years, helping the citizens of the Riverhead community.
Additionally, Margaret was also an active member of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People and the National Council of Negro Women. Margaret was also employed as a licensed practical nurse with the Suffolk County health department, Upton Medical Center and Brookhaven National Laboratory. Margaret had a love for helping young people in the community and assisting her friends with caring for their children.
After working for over 30 years, Margaret decided to retire and become self-employed as a private duty LPN and work at her leisure as an Avon representative. She enjoyed visiting patients’ homes and assisting them with their personal health care needs. She was always a kindhearted caregiver who would go above and beyond for her patients and family members.
Always the protector and guardian angel, Margaret will continue to watch over her loved ones. Margaret was the matriarch of the Spellman family, a devoted wife, mother, grandmother, aunt, cousin, sister and friend whose life revolved around her Christianity and family. Her love, compassion and generosity of spirit were felt by all who knew her. Margaret touched the lives of many and will be missed tremendously. Her Christian faith was a mainstay in her life. This was the main reason why she was a phenomenal woman. We thank God for blessing Etta with 85 years of life!
Margaret leaves to cherish her most precious memories her children, William S., Joseph L., Valerie M., Brandon E., Veleda B. and Vedette D.; two grandchildren that she and Bill raised as their own, Kevin L. Johnson and Elisa M. Spellman; one brother-in-law, Aaron Hank Brown (Joan); one brother, Eli Briggs (Rosemary); 19 grandchildren; 17 great-grandchildren; one goddaughter, Connie Wilson; and a host of nieces, nephews, cousins, brothers and sisters in Christ and friends.
Services for Margaret were entrusted to Tuthill-Mangano Funeral Home in Riverhead, N.Y. Visiting hours were held Dec. 14 at Riverhead Church of Christ, where a Celebration of Life-Homegoing Service followed. Interment took place at Calverton National Cemetery.
The family would like to thank everyone that has extended their love during this transition, including all of the Churches of Christ, Stony Brook University Hospital and RVAC.
This is a paid notice.