Mother Shaw celebrates 106th birthday

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IECN photo Bill Sandefur: Emma Shaw celebrated her 106th birthday on Saturday, Aug. 11 among family and friends at the Akoma Unity Center in San Bernardino. City officials were also in attendance to mark the joyous occasion. Mother Shaw is a matriarch of six generations, with six living children and over 300 grandchildren, great-grandchildren, great-great-grandchildren and great-great-great-grandchildren.
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The Shaw family gathered to celebrate the 106th birthday of the family matriarch, Emma Shaw, on August 11 at the Akoma Unity Center in Anne Shirrells Park on August 11.

IECN photo Bill Sandefur: Emma Shaw enjoying the musical talents of saxophone sensation J. Anton Boykin.

Emma was the 2nd born to James and Gertrude Armstrong on August 9, 1912 in Tallulah, Louisiana. Emma was not able to complete school because the family needed her to help in the cotton fields. At the tender age of 15 she met the love of her life, George Bernard Shaw.

Emma and George were married on February 6, 1929 and to this union God blessed them with 13 children; six sons, five daughters and two children who died at birth. Six of their children; Cleveland, Luretha, Johnny B, Joyce, Wiley and Mary were born in Tallulah. Emma and George were married for 62 years until he passed away.

In 1942 George saw potential for advancement by moving his family from Louisiana to Las Vegas, Nevada. While in Las Vegas, Emma was an employee at the El Rancho and Frontier hotels. Emma gave birth to twins, Donell and Ronell, before leaving Nevada in 1944.

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As times began to change, George had the foresight again to relocate his family to San Bernardino, California in 1944. Emma began working in private homes as a maid. She then found new employment at Norton Air Force Base. After leaving Norton, Emma began doing seasonal work at the National Orange Show. Once the seasonal work was done, Emma found employment in Palm Springs where she worked for 16 years. While in California Barbara, Vernon and Valerie were born.

Though their resources were limited, that did not prevent Emma from sharing with those who were even less fortunate whenever they stopped by. She is an excellent cook and is known for her homemade biscuits, fried chicken and her peach cobbler.

IECN photo Bill Sandefur: Joyce Smith, Council person Virginia Marquez, Wilmer Amina Carter, San Bernardino Mayor Carey Davis, Cheryl Brown and Rikke Van Johnson.

Emma joined New Hope Missionary Baptist Church under the leadership of Reverend David Campbell. After the passing of Reverend Campbell, Mother Shaw changed her membership to Greater New Jerusalem Church of God in Christ, which was then under the leadership of Elder Herbert C. Pugh. Mother Shaw grew spiritually at Greater New Jerusalem where she became the Church Mother. She served as Church Mother for over 40 years and in recognition for this service Mother Shaw was appointed Church Mother Emeritus.

Everyone who knows Mother Shaw has heard her testimony and can repeat it verbatim as she starts to say…”Early one Saturday morning I was in my bathroom when I heard a loud voice saying, ‘Be ready, I’m on My way back’…” and from that time to this day, Mother Emma tells everyone that she encounters to be ready, the Lord is on His way back.

In 2008 in recognition of her longevity the City of San Bernardino dedicated a street in her honor – Emma Road (emerald), located on the Westside. This street was bestowed with that name because she has been a jewel in the community for so many decades.

The matriarch of six generations Emma has 6 living children, and well over 300 grandchildren, great grandchildren, great great grandchildren and great great great grandchildren.

Article submitted by Rikke Van Johnson

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