Family and friends joined together on Sunday, April 26 to celebrate the 95th birthday of Josie Dean, a longtime Oakland resident and former schoolteacher.
During the celebration held at Ashland Community Center in San Leandro, Dean was honored for her unwavering devotion as a mother, community leader, and member of West Side Missionary Baptist Church.
The event included musical solos by two of her grandchildren, an instrumental of “Jesus is Real” by Deron Cannon and “Awesome,” a song composed by Naemah Ware sung by Debriana Cannon.
Dean received a Presidential Address from President Barack Obama and recognition from Congresswoman Barbara Lee, acknowledging her 95 years.
A proclamation from Mayor Libby Schaaf declared April 25, 2015 as “Mrs. Josie Dean Day,” acknowledging her valuable contributions to the Oakland community and her “lifetime of excellence in civic and community service.”
Born on April 21, 1920 to Gertrude and Randall Raspberry as the youngest of six children, Dean grew up in Westpoint, Mississippi. It was there that she met and married her late husband, Joseph Dean, to whom she was married for 62 years until his passing in Dec. 2003.
After moving to California, they had nine children: Dorrise, Joseph Jr., Carol, James, Claude, Christopher, Deborah, Annette and Celía.
Dean joined West Side Missionary Baptist Church in 1958 under the late Rev. A.B. Burks and has been a faithful member under Pastor Ken Chambers Sr., serving in almost every ministry and office.
As a tireless community advocate, Dean was instrumental in establishing the first grocery store in West Oakland.
She worked as a nurse’s assistant at Prescott Elementary School in West Oakland and was also PTA President for many years. She has been a longtime member of Oakland Community Organizations (OCO), joining soon after the organization was established.
“I never would have thought I would’ve made it here, and I know it’s a blessing from God,” said Dean at her birthday celebration. She added that the one thing she is most proud of is her children.