Congresswoman Barbara Lee’s mother Mildred Parish Massey, 90, passed away peacefully in Oakland, surrounded by family, on Monday, Feb. 16.
Born June 6, 1924 in El Paso, Texas, Mrs. Massey is predeceased by her father William Calhoun Parish, her mother Willie Edith Parish, and her sister Juanita Franklin.
Mrs. Massey attended Douglass elementary and high schools in El Paso, where she was the manager of the Douglass High School basketball team.
She won a scholarship to Tillotson College in Austin, Texas and transferred to Southern University in Baton Rouge, Louisiana to study business administration.
Mrs. Massey broke many racial barriers in El Paso, Texas as the first African American to be hired in key positions. She worked at the USO and was the first Black clerical worker at Ft. Bliss, Texas in the Postal Locator.
While working, she attended Texas Western College (now the University of Texas at El Paso) and was one of 12 students to integrate Texas Western.
In 1960, Mrs. Massey moved to San Fernando, California where once again she broke many racial barriers in the workplace. She worked three jobs simultaneously to take care of her aging father and three daughters.
In 1975, she moved to Oakland and worked for the Social Security Administration until her retirement in 1986. She helped found and manage her daughter’s business, The W.C. Parish Co., dba Lee Associates until her second retirement in 1998 when she moved to Sun City, Arizona.
In 2010, she returned to Oakland where she resided at Grand Lake Gardens until her death.
Mrs. Massey is survived by her 3 daughters, Congresswoman Barbara Lee, Mrs. Mildred Whitfield (Calvin), and Mrs. Beverly Hardy (Martin), her sister Mrs. Lois Murell, 7 grandchildren, 16 great-grand children and 1 great-great grandchild.
A celebration of life will be held on Thursday, Feb. 26 at Allen Temple Baptist Church, 8501 International Blvd, Oakland, Calif. Viewing from 10 a.m. and services at 11 a.m. Internment follows at Mountain View Cemetery in Oakland.
Arrangements made by: Harris Funeral Home Legacy Center, 1331 San Pablo Avenue, Berkeley, CA 94702.
The family graciously appreciates flowers and/or donations. Donations can be made in the name of Mildred P. Massey C/O American Lung Association in California, COPD Research, 333 Hegenberger Road, Suite 450, Oakland, CA 94621, (510) 638-5864.
For additional information, contact Carlotta Scott at (843) 461-0700.