Lois DeBerry Laid to Rest With Crowd of Political People on Hand

Before a crowd of mourners that included former Vice President Al Gore and elected officials at the local, state and federal levels, State Rep. Lois DeBerry was laid to rest at historic Elmwood Cemetery Saturday as friends reflected on the many ways she touched lives and inspired people.

Further from the Commercial Appeal:

Fetuga, who drove from Nashville to attend the funeral, said she met DeBerry when she was in college and DeBerry worked with the children’s defense fund.

“Ms. DeBerry was my other mother,” said Fetuga, who founded Gideon’s Army United, a Nashville nonprofit group. “I’m probably one of thousands who she said was her child, but I felt like I was the only other one. I’m sure we all felt that way.”

DeBerry, the first African-American woman elected to represent Memphis and Shelby County in the House, and the longest-serving state representative, died last Sunday of pancreatic cancer. She was 68.

…After the service, the crowd, which included Gore and other political figures, continued to First Baptist Church-Broad for a celebration of life ceremony.

While honoring DeBerry, they recalled her courage, strength, style and wit.

Republican House Speaker Beth Harwell recalled being too warm at a chamber meeting and taking off her jacket, revealing her arms in a sleeveless dress.

“She walked up to me, tapped me on the shoulder and pulled me to the side,” Harwell said to the nearly full sanctuary. “She said ‘Girl, Michelle Obama you are not. Cover up those scrawny arms.’ ”

“I hope that when Lois DeBerry arrived at the gate, St. Peter was wearing a coat and tie and the angels were wearing St. John’s suits,” Harwell continued. “If not, I’m sure she’s already taken the appropriate action.”