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Delores E. Stokes, boys’ clothing store manager and mother of former City Council member, dies

Delores Stokes is remembered for her selfless devotion to her children.
Delores Stokes is remembered for her selfless devotion to her children.

Delores E. Stokes, the matriarch of her family, who managed a Waverly boys’ clothing store, died of old-age complications March 26 at Manor Care in Towson. The resident of Stadium Place in Northeast Baltimore was 89.

Born in Baltimore and raised on Caroline Street, she was the daughter of Anna White Snead, a Hutzler’s department store food service worker who was also employed at St. Joseph’s Hospital, and her husband, Reuben White. She was a graduate of Paul Laurence Dunbar Junior and Senior High School.

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“Her family was everything. She took great pride in raising us. She put us through Catholic schools and did the best she could. She made us wonderful Sunday meals. Her kids were her world,” said her daughter, Sheila Stokes-Bent, a Raleigh, North Carolina, resident.

“She loved to read,” said her brother, William “Bill” White of Diamond Bar, California. “She was a good student, but you most always saw her with a book, magazine or newspaper in her hand.”

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Her daughter also said, “She often told narratives of growing up in East Baltimore and of getting dressed up and walking from East to West Baltimore to the Royal Theater to see many of her favorite world-renowned great singers like Smokey Robinson and Gladys Knight and the Pips.”

Ms. Stokes, who lived in the 1300 block of E. Lafayette Ave., also later resided in the Latrobe Homes in the part of Baltimore known as the Tenth Ward.

She was recalled for her love of children.

“She helped us with our first child,” said Mr. White, her brother. “And when her own children came, she was a devoted mom to them. She also took care of our mother.”

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She was an active member of St. Francis Xavier Roman Catholic Church.

After working in the employee cafeteria at Hutzler’s on Howard Street and at Mercy Medical Center, she managed a branch shop of Every Man’s Son clothing store.

“My mother managed my shop in the Waverly Towers Shopping Center on Greenmount Avenue,” said her son, former Baltimore City Council member Carl Stokes, who said his main store was in Mondawmin Mall.

“I’ll never forget when I told my mother I wanted to run for public office, she said, ‘Why?’ ” said Mr. Stokes, who later served on the Board of School Commissioners. “She was a proud mother and she encouraged me to do whatever I wanted. Who better to depend on for encouragement, but your mother?”

She later became a well-known presence around her son’s campaign headquarters, both for his first and second runs for City Council.

“My mother was respectful of people and said, ‘Yes, sir’ and ‘Yes, ma’am.’ She was friendly and liked doing for others, especially her neighbors,” said her son. “Everyone was ‘honey’ and ‘sweetie’ to her.”

She never stopped reading and liked celebrity biographies of Barack and Michelle Obama and musical entertainment figures. She read newspapers thoroughly but skipped the sports pages.

Interested in African-American history, she wrote to The Sun in 1991: “I agree ... that Clarence Mitchell Jr., his wife, Juanita Jackson Mitchell and her mother, Lillie Jackson, are not getting the honor and recognition they deserve for their civil rights work. Black History Month is certainly a time to teach our children about the great contributions these individuals made.”

“We will never forget our beloved matriarch,” her daughter said. “She sacrificed, loved, provided, shared and guided so many throughout her life,” she said. “She was selfless and had a beautiful spirit.”

She presided at a Sunday meal, salmon and sweet potatoes, with her family. The dish was made by her son, Donald.

A celebration of life and memorial Mass will be offered at noon April 10 at St. Francis Xavier Church, 1427 N. Caroline St.

A family hour precedes the service. The service will be livestreamed at the Historic St. Francis Xavier Facebook page.

Her husband of more than 40 years, Frank Stokes, a Locke Insulator shop steward, carryout shop owner and Morgan State University employee, died in 1993.

In addition to her son, daughter and brother, survivors include two other sons, Steven Stokes and Donald Stokes of Baltimore; a sister, Patricia Foster of San Jose, California; six grandchildren and a great-grandson.

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