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Mattie Lou Handy

July 20, 1928 April 25, 2019
Mattie Lou Handy
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Obituary for Mattie Lou Handy

Mattie Lou Handy was born on July 20, 1928 to Joe Brown and Kate Seamster Brown in Doyline, Louisiana -- just outside Shreveport. Kate hated the sharecropper life of the rural south and when Mattie was two years old, Kate left the family. Mattie and her older sister, Lena Mae, lived a hard life - going from "pillar to post", as Mattie would say. Often, in between cotton seasons, Joe had to seek work elsewhere. On one such occasion, Joe met Anna Bullock of Yazoo City, Mississippi. Anna became mother to the girls, and Mattie became her little “Panky”.

Mattie had to work in cotton fields as soon as she was big enough to drag a sack behind her. She was a farmer at heart with an incredible gift for growing huge plants and beautiful gardens. For many years she and her husband, James, would compete to see whose section of the vegetable garden turned out best.

Under threat of death by the sharecropper boss, Joe and Anna ran away from Louisiana and eventually arrived in Cheyenne, Wyoming. By now, Mattie was mother to Mary Pearl and lived with sister Lena, brother-in-law Crawford, and Lena’s first child, Andrew. Later on, Mattie and her baby also moved to Cheyenne. A joke between the two sisters was that Lena, who hated the farm life, married a farmer, while Mattie, who loved the farm life, ended up in the city!

While in Cheyenne, James Handy laid eyes on Mattie and declared at first sight that he was going to marry her. On July 11, 1953 James and Mattie eloped to Raton, New Mexico. In 1957, Mattie and James bought their life-long home at 2949 Columbine. By 1960 they had four children (Hattie, Bernadine, Lee Roy, and Benny). A few years later, they adopted a nephew, Robert Kelly. By 1967, Mattie was also Mama to her husband’s sons from his first marriage.

One memory that Mattie leaves with us is the number of neighborhood children she "raised". Countless teeth were pulled using her kitchen door. Numerous bottoms were potty trained while she ironed clothes and caught a bit of General Hospital or Dark Shadows.

Perhaps her best legacy is her delicious and abundant cooking! One example is that Mattie cooked three-course meals for James’ lunch every day of his work life. Eventually, she started including extras for the other guys so James could have peace at lunch time. Another example is that her children never knew what cold cereal was until high school friends let them in on the secret! Her mother-in-law handed down a recipe for Cheese Pie (spaghetti-n-cheese) and she cooked some form of it for her family on every Sunday and on every special occasion. Her tea cakes were so good that one grandson found them easy to sell for a quick buck! Equally as famous, but far more dangerous, was her delicious peach brandy from their peach and plum garden. There was a night when, after telling James that she wouldn't make any more brandy, they were suddenly awaken by the sound of gun shots! Mattie's hidden batch of fermenting brandy was blowing off its lids!

A lesser known fact is that Mattie, a woman of faith and hospitality, always had a house filled to the rafters with relatives, friends, and sometimes strangers who needed good food, warm bed, or nursing through illnesses. No amount of blood or cleaning caused Mattie to turn her back on them. She nursed each and every one of them while also working her night job at the Western Federal building, babysitting, and caring for her house, and family. Among them was her bedridden mother, Anna. Mattie nursed her for several years with very little outside help. And we can never forget the love and care she gave her nephew, Robert. His words to her, as the ambulance was taking him out of the house for the last time, were “I love you Aunt Mattie! I love you!”

And so, it is fitting that we show special appreciation to those who sacrificed and gave so much to ensure that our beloved mother, Mattie, was well taken care of as she lived and died in her own bed. From Bonnie, Hattie, and Mary, “God Bless each and every one of you who fed, bathed, combed hair, made her laugh, telephoned, helped with expenses, sat with her, played music for her, moved and set up furniture, brought food, fruit, and gifts, prayed for her, and prayed with her. God Bless you forever more!”

Mattie Handy was preceded in death by her husband of 60 years, James Handy Jr; son, Benny; parents Joe, Kate, and Anna Brown; grandson Arron; sister Lena Mae Lee (Crawford Sr, deceased); sisters-in-law Thelma Kelly (Dan Sr., deceased) and Ida Mae Goode (Henry); nephews Robert Kelly, Harry James Lee, and Donald James Burks.

She is survived by her children Mary Handy-Wooten of Chicago; Hattie Taylor, Bernadine Owens (Melvin), and Lee Roy Handy of Denver; stepson Lawrence Handy of Denver; 9 grandchildren: Theresa S. (Darnell) of Chicago; Caleb IV, Myisha, Talisha, Derrick II, Damien, Theresa G. and Andrea all of Denver; Jovan of Phoenix; numerous great-grandchildren, great-great-grandchildren, nieces and nephews including Assistant Pastor Kairy Hill of Denver. She is also survived by her brother-in-law Henry Goode of Denver and sister Lena Mae Lee’s children Andrew, Joe, Crawford Jr, Thomas, and Mary Ann of Louisiana; Betty and Mattie of Dallas; many cousins including Elizabeth Potter (Tommy, deceased) of Los Angeles and Minister C.J. Brown of Cheyenne; many dear friends, including, but not limited to Pastor and Sister Joseph Nsabimbona, Pastor and Sister John Brown, and the many people of the Columbine Neighborhood who always felt welcome to stop in and sit a while.

Those of us she has left behind will, for a long time, expect to see her in her kitchen. It will be a while before we stop heading to the stove to see what's cooking.

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3:00 PM 5/5/2019 3:00:00 PM - 7:00 PM 5/5/2019 7:00:00 PM
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Denver, CO 80205

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2101 N. Marion Street Denver 80205 CO
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11:00 AM 5/6/2019 11:00:00 AM
Caldwell-Kirk Funeral & Cremation Services

2101 N. Marion Street
Denver, CO 80205

Caldwell-Kirk Funeral & Cremation Services
2101 N. Marion Street Denver 80205 CO
United States

Cemetery Details


Fort Logan National Cemetery Final Resting Place

3698 S. Sheridan Blvd.
Denver, CO 80235

3698 S. Sheridan Blvd. Denver 80235 CO
United States

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