Susie Mays SankeyOctober 6, 1927 ~ May 23, 2020 (age 92)
Susie Mays Sankey was born in the “Queen City of the Delta,” Greenville, Mississippi, on October 6, 1927, to the late Erischor Mays and Ada (Bessie) White Mays whose address was 620 North Theobald Street. Susie was a birthday present for her mother, whose birthday was three days earlier, and the second child in the family, joining her sister Ella Bea. Susie’s childhood nickname was “Dolly” because of her enjoyment when playing with and dressing up dolls. In 1940, when Susie was thirteen years old, she and her family moved to the “Steel City of Gary, Indiana. Susie attended Roosevelt High School graduating in the upper ten percent of her class as an honor student. When Susie entered Indiana University, her Entrance Exam score was highest in the class. In 1952 after hearing Mr. West teach that Saturday was God’s Sabbath, Susie was baptized at the Mizpah Seventh-day Adventist Church in Gary, Indiana, and she remained a faithful member of the denomination until her passing.
Chasing a dream, Susie moved to Florida and married Jimmie L. Sankey, Sr. in 1954, to this union, five children were born. Susie penned, “They (my children) have fulfilled my joy!” Susie took her role as mother seriously; at home, she taught her children about God and made sacrifices to send them to a Christian school from kindergarten through high school. Susie treated each child as if they were the only one, tailoring her attention and support based on their specific need. She expressed love by telling her children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren, “I love you,” “I am proud of you,” and buying birthday cards, balloons, and Bibles as gifts, and by giving godly counsel and discipline. She celebrated their successes giving trophies and making congratulatory signs, and she did the same for other young people in the church. In recent years, Susie’s children lovingly and tenderly cared for their mother round-the-clock in her home sharing precious moments with her, which Susie enjoyed and appreciated. Her greatest desire was for her family to be saved so that she could tell the Lord, “Here are the flock that you gave me.”
Susie’s notable work history professionally and within the church contributed to her broad knowledge base and diverse skills. She was asked, how do you know so much? Susie believed in the Bible verse, “Whatsoever thy hand findeth to do, do it with all thy might.” Ecclesiastes 9:10. As a result, she was a steward of her time, talents, her resources working hard for God and her fellowman. Susie began her work career as Correspondence Secretary for Retail Division of Speigal, Inc. commuting from Gary, Indiana to Chicago for work. In Florida, she worked as an Admissions Clerk and a Medical Records Librarian at Dr. Phillips Memorial Hospital. Susie also worked as a social worker and acting administrator at Guardian Care Nursing Home. Later, Susie functioned as a payroll clerk for Piezo Technology and a supervisor of technical support for Aetna Insurance. Susie was the first African American supervisor in the Laboratory at Florida Hospital (FH) Adventist Health System, and she worked as an Administrative Assistant for the Florida Hospital School of Medical Technology. After retiring from FH, Susie became the secretary at the Mt. Sinai Junior Academy. When Susie’s children reached the age to work, she urged them to apply for jobs at Florida Hospital, and each child was hired because of their mother’s stellar reputation. Susie has been a faithful and active member of Mt. Sinai S.D.A. church working in several departments of the church; this includes Treasury, Sabbath School teacher, Sabbath School Superintendent, Stewardship, Deaconess, Community Services, and a member of the King’s Daughters. Susie received numerous certificates and awards from employers and organizations, recognizing her for strict attention to details, outstanding work performances, and exemplary leadership.
Susie had a remarkable life with rich experiences. She lived before direct dialing long distance, television, computers, toll roads, and she survived the Great Depression and segregation. For years Susie viewed segregation as a way of life until an incident in Memphis, Tennessee, when she was asked to step aside to allow the Caucasian passengers to board the train before her. Later, she wrote an essay titled “My First Encounter with Mr. Jim Crow” that won third place in Gary, Indiana. Ten years later, when Susie moved to Florida, her essay was on the editorial page of the Sentinel Star without citing her as the author. She was sighted in the same social circle of rich and famous people seeing in person George Washington Carver, Marian Anderson, Mary Bethune McCloud, Ella Fitzgerald, Frank Sinatra, and attended school with Joe Jackson, the father of the Jackson Five (5) singers.
Susie lived a youthful and satisfied life, accomplishing much and recognized for her untiring efforts. According to Susie, “I am not old, I just have lived a long time.” Her favorite pastimes were reading and memorizing scriptures from the Bible, making sandwiches for the homeless, shopping for bargains,
entertaining guests, teaching speaking and table etiquette to her children, spending time with her family, making her infamous potato salad, attending church in her “Sabbath Best,” and fellowshipping with the believers. Her home of 53 years beautifully decorated with her collection of eagles. Susie said, “The reason I like the eagle is when a storm comes, an eagle runs toward the storm not away from it.” As a mother eagle, Susie faced storms and attempted to protect her children from the storms of life. In 1954, Susie's eagle mentality explained why she remained seated in the front of a bus after the bus driver asked her to move to the back because of her skin color. Susie’s eagle mindset and determination displayed during other events in her life, her firm faith in God gave her courage to face the storms and to soar high and survive them.
Susie had a special love for God and for others, and she was well-loved by many. Her innovative methods of spreading the gospel of Christ’s soon return included placing religious tracts in the envelope with her check when paying bills; purchasing Bibles for friends and family members; and using the Bible text “Blessed are they that do his commandments, that they may have right to the tree of life and may enter in through the gates into the city” (Revelation 22:14) as her telephone voicemail message. Susie penned, “My greatest joy is found in my friend JESUS whom I met in Gary at a tent meeting.” “He has been my best friend for more than 67 years.” “I know His voice when He says, “This is the way walk ye in it.” “It has been wonderful seeing the fulfillment of the Bible Prophecies about “Knowledge increasing in the time of the end.” All these and other signs let us know that Jesus is soon to take us to the mansions that he has gone to prepare for us.” Leaving a rich legacy of a youthful and well-lived life, Susie is resting peacefully awaiting the second coming of Christ.
Cherishing her lifetime of precious memories are:
Sister: Ella Bea Morris; Father of Children: Jimmie L. Sankey, Sr.; Children: Marsha Motley, Ivan (Theresa) Sankey, Stephen (Edna) Sankey, Lisa Cone, Dr. Jennifer Sankey, Jimmie L. Sankey, Jr.; Grandchildren: Julius Motley, Sr., Valeah Motley, Ivan-Marquise Sankey, Tinal (Anthony, Jr.) Brown, Stephanie Sankey, Saundra Sankey, Maurice Cone, Candice Cone (deceased), Tiljuana (David) Davis, Rashad Morgan, Sr., Tiffany Sankey; Great-Grandchildren: Julius Motley, Jr., Malachi Porter, Marissa Dallas, Ashia Sankey, Messiah Sankey, Michael Sankey, Anthony Brown, III, Amari Brown, Braxton Brown, Rashad Morgan, Jr., Takoria Morgan, Raheem Morgan, Ramelo Morgan, Javeiona Sankey, Taylin Sankey; Nieces: Adrienne Posley, Shirley Saliem, Dr. Martha Dawson, Elaine Fudge; Viola Crenshaw; Nephews: Jerome Fudge, Alonzo Fudge; Goddaughter: Colleen Lee; and other relatives and friends.