Ms. Lula Christine (Hunter) Samuels affectionately known to many as "Grammy, Grandmother and Aunt Chris" was born on December 28, 1928 in Abbeville, SOuth Carolina. Shw was the youngest child of 16 children born to the late Trustee Will Hunter (an African descendent) and the late Mamie (Rice) Hunter (an African and Black Food American Indian descendent). At a very early age, Chris accepted Christ as her Lord and savior under Rev. J. W. Mathis, the paster of Mount Pleasant Baptist Church of Abbeville, South Carolina.
When Chris was a child, she worked with her family on the Rosenberg farm, one of the largest farms in Abbeville, South Carolina. On the Rosenberg's farm Chris and her family grew cotton, peas, wheat, soybeans, and corn. Chris lived on the Rosenberg farm with her family who were sharecroppers despite her father's (Hunter) family also being owners of a very large farm located in the old 96 District of Abbeville. The Hunter's harm was referred to by the family as the old wine stock place and most likely was Chris's place of birth.
Chris moved to Evanston, IL to join her older sisters and brothers who were encouraged by their mother Mamie to leave the South and escape the harsh treatments of discrimination and Jim Crow laws in the South. The lynching of a wealthy African American man, Am=ndrew Crawford on a tree in the back yard where her family lived; caused Chris's mother Mamie to voe that as each one of her children graduated from high school they would move noth to "never go through a night of terror like that again."
Upon arival in Evanston, her older sister Sallie Mae helped her secure a position working in a cleaning plant as a garment inspector. Chris worked in the cleaning industry for many years and eventually found employment in another industry. She emjoyed working at her new place of employment known as Avon. She was a loyal and dedicated worker for 10 years and enjoyed working on the assembly line.
In 1935, Chris joined the Long Memorial Baptist Church which subsequently became Springfield Missionary Baptist Church, under the leadership of the late Rev. J. Long. At the time the church was located in a small house at 1710 Dodge Avenue in Evanston, IL and had only a handful of members. Chris's parents along with all of her sisters and brothers followed her sister Ollie and joined the church. CHris and her family worked extremely hard over the years in the church, were significant financial contributors, and actively encouraged others to join the church.
Chris with her sisters' famous "sextet" gospel singing, The Hunter Sisters, gave gospel concerts to raise money for the church building fund to relocate the church from the little house on Dodge Avenue to its present location at 1801 Emerson Street. Chris had a beautiful singing voice. Chris would often sing with Mahalia Jackson, Sam Cook, Soul Stirrers, Pop Staples and his children, Pilgrim Travelers, Golden Harps, and Evening Stars. All monies raised by Chris and the Hunter sisters were donated to the church;s building fund.
Chris was a member of Springfiled Baptist Church for over 70 years where she served as the director of the chior. Chris loved to bring people together. She had a natural and uncanny ability to take charge and bring people together. Chris was a born leader. She would oftentimes pull people into the chior who never had any intention of singing. She had a way of encouraging you to sing with whatever God had given you.
Chris did not discriminate in whom she taught and/or trained. She loved the youth and tots just as much as she did the young adults and seasoned saints. Chris would oftentimes help to fill the chior stands by bringing her grandchildren and family along to rehearsals and Sunday morning service. Everyone was a member of the chior!
Chis had a passion for children, and she would not only ensure they had the proper uniform but also pick them uo for rehearsals and Sunday morning worship. She organized the Little Tots Chior and Angelic Chior. She also very avidly campaigned for the growth of the Gospel Chorus 1, Gospel Chorus 2, and Mass Chior. She would take the church home with her and invite soloists and anyone else who neede assistance with singing their notes or learning their individual parts. Although she didn't play the piano herslef, she purchased one just to have in her home for the purpose of singing and rehearsing. Christine and her dear friend Maryann Kennedy spent countless days and nights preparing and critiquing notes for the purpose of excellent praise and worship unto God. She remained faithful to Springfield, serving dutifully until her health no longer permitted her to serve. She loved her church, she loved her family and she loved her friends!
At any given time, you would find Chris working outside in her garden. She loved gardening and growing her own vegetables, which she used when cooking. Cooking was her forte. She spend hours on end preparing extravagant holiday meals and preparing for meals at her church. "The kitchen crew" as they were often called went out of their way to feed the congregation as well as any visiting churches at almost every church event. She cooked, she decorated, she donated, she prayed, she fasted, she secured people to help and she ensured there would be enough for everyone.
Anyone who met Chris quickly observed her love for children. Chris raised generations of children during her life. She loved Children!!!!!!! She raised what would come to ber known as her boys: Carl Michael and Deiehl and a little later DeErin who she commonly referred to as DeDe. She loved all her children and took pride in each of them: Sammy, Carl and Debbie.
Chris loved to put together puzzles and listen to gospel music. She was always cleaning and busy doing something around the house. She had enough energy for herself and about five other people together. She loved style and would often be found in matching shoes, hat and purse. Her love for singing far superseded everything and showed in her willingness to sing and rehearse at any time for the glory of God. "Tell me a story" with what you're singing she would say, to those she taught and trained.
The Lord opened the gates of Heaven and sent down two of his angels onWednesday, October 16, 2019 to call Chris home. Chris was surrounded by her family throughout the entire week and her grandchildren in her final hours. She was laughing, talking, alert and full of life. She departed this life at Evanston Hospital. Chris was 90 when she died. Chris was a mother, a professional singer, a cook, a decorator, a playwright, an artist, a creator, a caretaker, a provider, a giver, a grandmother and aunt to all, a friend, a teacher, a director, and entrepreneur, an owner, anf encourager, and advocate, a disciplinarian, a liborator, a forerunner, a class act, a lady, a queen, an outstanding woman of God. She was and continues to be an inspiration to all and a legendary trailblazer who will be surmountably missed.
Chris leaves, but only for a little while, to cherish her loving memories a son, Samuel L. Thomas, Clara Thomas (daughter in law), a daughter Deborah Jones-Hunt (James). Her loving grandchildren Clarence Antonio Muhammad (Leah), Chantel Thomas, RaChon Thomas-Burke (Reginald), Tamalind Mayfield-Campell (Tony), Christopher Joyner, Clintonray Ware (Marquita), Deiehl Reese, DeErin Hickman. Christine's great-grandchildren, Joshua, Azjahnae, Taylor, Reggie, Rachel, Aniyah, Samadiah, Saadiqa, Najeeda, Keir, Mykle, Jordan, Quinton, Clinton, Trenton, Elian, Joziah, Nicholas, Juan, Ebony, Alexandra, Demetrius, a niece JoRenee Hunter and a host of other nieces, nephews, relatives, and friends.
Funeral arrangements entrusted to Thompson Funeral and Cremation Services, Inc. Philip L. Gillette ~ Funeral Director
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