Funeral services for Matthew Blackwell are Saturday, Dec. 12, 2015, at 11 a.m. at Greater Mt. Sinai Baptist Church with burial in Garden Memorial Park. Collins Funeral Home is in charge of arrangements.
Visitation is Friday, Dec. 11, 2015, from 1 until 7 p.m. at Collins Funeral Home on North Farish Street.
Mr. Blackwell died on Thursday, Dec. 3, 2015, at the University of Mississippi Medical Center. He was born February 4, 1931 in Bogue Chitto to J.C. and Minette Blackwell.
He was the seventh of thirteen children. His siblings included, Will Blackwell, James Blackwell, John Wesley Blackwell, Nelma Blackwell Edwards, Mary Lou Blackwell Brown, Mynell Blackwell Holmes, Ghanna Blackwell, Elnora Blackwell Dorsey, William Blackwell, Levan Blackwell, Hilda Blackwell Montgomery, Velvelyn Blackwell Foster, James S. Blackwell and Murray Lee Blackwell.
Matthew attended Lincoln County Training School and went on to become a licensed Plumber and Entrepreneur. As a young man in Bogue Chitto, Matthew was an inspiration to family and friends. He taught by example that anything was possible if you worked hard and had faith. He was very much concerned that young people in the community did not have access to positive social and cultural activities. To address this need, he opened one of the first restaurants for African Americans in Bogue Chitto with “in-house” and “take out” service and a place for young people to gather and dance. He also provided movies on the weekends; first in a tent and later he built a rustic movie house. He purchased a bus, which he used to take the children on cultural trips to New Orleans, Jackson, and other places within the state.
Matthew accepted Christ at an early age and united with New Zion Union Missionary Baptist Church in Bogue Chitto. He later moved to Jackson where he was an active member of Progressive M. B. Church under the Pastorate of the late Rev. L. H. Newsome; Friendship Baptist Church under the Pastorate of the late Rev. L. H. Newsome and the late Rev. A. L. Barnes and later joined Greater Mt. Sinai M.B. Church under the Pastorate of the late Rev. A.L. Barnes. He was a Trustee at Greater Mt. Sinai for many years until his death and supported his church in many ways that a Christian ought.
Matthew continued his business ventures and community activism in Jackson. He began plumbing with Mr. Preston Griffin and later established the Blackwell Plumbing and Heating Company. Matthew installed plumbing in many buildings and homes across the state of Mississippi. His reputation of dependable and precise work was well known throughout the state. He owned Home Dinning Room on Farish Street for many years. He had “Juke boxes” that played the old 45 records all over the city of Jackson, Copiah and Lincoln Counties.
He was active in the Civil Rights movement in the 1960’s. He was a close friend and bodyguard for Medgar Wiley Evers during the Civil Rights movement. He was with Medgar Evers on the night of his unfortunate demise as noted in the book entitled “Never Too Late: A Prosecutor’s Story of the Justice in the Medgar Evers Case” by Bobby Delaughter.
Matthew married LaVerne Dillon in the late 1940’s and to this union three children were born, Carolyn Dianne, Matthew and Joey. In 1974, Matthew met the love of his life, Bess Crawley. After seven years of dating, they were married on August 16, 1981. Their love and devotion for each other grew over the years. They loved to travel and their travels included, Paris, France; London, England; Honolulu, Hawaii; Toronto, Canada – Niagara Falls; the Grand Canyon; Hoover Dam; Las Vegas, Nevada; Los Angeles, California.; Orlando, Florida.; Washington, DC; New York City and many other cities and states.
Survivors are his loving and devoted wife, Bess of 34 years; his children, Carolyn Dianne Blackwell Miller, Rev. Matthew D. (Jackie) Blackwell, Joey (Terrice) Blackwell and Winston Dillon Sr.; god-children, Sandra Taylor, Roylee (Valerie) Rhodes, Earl Redwood, Willie Harrison Jr., Helen Daughtry and Christopher Michael (Tameekia) Lee; grandchildren, Alison (Antonio), Terrence, Ashley, Joey Jr., Jasmine, Adrianne, Winston Jr., LaShawn, Sadie, Markese, Maurice, Lashaunda, Terrence (Janet), Tamika (Damon) and Roinika; god-grandchildren, De Michael Lee and DeShayla Lee; and 17 great-grandchildren; sisters, Elnora Blackwell Dorsey and Velvelyn Blackwell (E C) Foster; sisters-in laws, Jessie Mae Blackwell and Grace Blackwell; brother-in-law, Ellis “Pete” Brown Sr.; brothers, James S. Blackwell and Murray Lee Blackwell; and nieces, nephews, friends, many acquaintances and his beloved dog “Sophie”.