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Gary to celebrate the life of Myrlin Delores Patterson Freeman

Myrlin Delores Patterson Freeman was a special person in the hearts of many people in Gary, Indiana. Whether you knew her by the many affectionate names she was called or met her for the first time, she knew no strangers. Delores passed away on July 28, 2023. She was 86.

The family invites the community to join them as they celebrate the life of Myrlin Delores Patterson Freeman at Israel C.M.E. Church, 2301 Washington Street in Gary, Indiana on Friday, August 18, 2023, from 12-8 p.m. (Family Hour 6-8 p.m.) and a Celebration of Life on Saturday, August 19, 2023, at 11:00 a.m.

Myrlin Delores Patterson was born in Gary, Indiana, on September 11, 1936, the third child of Limmie and Bernice Patterson. Delores accepted Christ at an early age and joined Israel C.M.E. Church in Gary. Her lifelong sense of service to all saw its genesis here as a Sunday School teacher for the primary class for 30 years, a member of the Young Matrons, and a host for the Prayer Power Pool. Delores attended Pulaski Elementary School and was a proud member of the Roosevelt High School class of 1954. She attended Indiana University and later began her first job as a secretary for the local branch of the Gary NAACP.

In 1957, Delores married the love of her life, Travis Lee Freeman. They settled into a modest home on Arthur Street on Gary’s west side, and in 1960, God blessed them with a beautiful girl, Karen, as their only child. Delores’ service to church and the NAACP were but the genesis of her civic and social activism. In 1965, she joined the staff of the Gary Neighborhood Settlement House (which later became Gary Neighborhood Services) where she served the community for more than three decades. As a living example of Matthew 25:35-40 – “whatsoever you do for the least of my brothers and sisters, that you do unto me” – she was pleased to help anyone in need. Delores and Travis hosted many family parties in their home. When relatives visited Gary, their home was a refuge of safety, a center of comfort, and a site of joy. It was not unusual for Travis to invite friends and strangers to their home from the golf course for a home-cooked meal and an impromptu party in their basement.

In the early 1960s, Delores joined Club Entres Nous with women who became lifelong friends. They sponsored children’s activities, fashion shows and other community events. She and Travis also supported the inaugural and subsequent campaigns of Mayor Richard Gordon Hatcher – one of the first elected Black Mayors in America – by volunteering at his headquarters and hosting “house parties” in their home. She later formed Club Gala, a group known for its shopping trips and Christmas Around the World social events. Forever devoted to her alma mater, she was a member of Roosevelt High’s Class of 1954 reunion planning committee.

Being an active parent was like breathing to Delores. She volunteered for Banneker Elementary’s PTA, the Girl Scouts, and the Tolleston Junior High School and Roosevelt High School Band Parents. An adept fundraiser, she was a driving force to raise funds for the purchase of new band uniforms at Tolleston Junior High and Roosevelt High School, always making certain that Karen was one of the top sellers of Girl Scout cookies and ads for the Xinos and the Alpha Phi Alpha Cotillion. A doting grandparent, Delores secured Ms. Pauline to care for her first grandchild at home and was insistent that Jordan learn to read before kindergarten. She often provided transportation and occasional discipline for Jordan and never missed a Grandparents Day at Banneker. Delores willingly joined Travis and her sister, Marjorie, to care for Limmie and Bernice at the Arthur Street home.

She was rewarded for her community service by many organizations, including Zeta Phi Beta Sorority, Inc; the Colored Federated Women’s Club; the YWCA of Gary; and United Way.

Delores was preceded in death by her husband, Travis; her parents, Limmie Sr., and Bernice Patterson; her brothers Limmie Jr. and James “Pete” Patterson; her sister, Helen Claypool; and her niece, Darien Patterson.  She leaves to celebrate her life, her daughter, Karen Freeman-Wilson; her son-in-law, Carmen Wilson; her granddaughter, Jordan Wilson; her sister and housemate, Marjorie E. Patterson; her sisters-in-law, Lavern Freeman and Bertina Patterson; nephews, Rutley Leland, Billy Ralph Freeman, Michael (Mitzi) Patterson, Vernon (Karen) Patterson, and Dexter Patterson, Billy Ray (Cecelia) Freeman, David Wayne Goshen, Lamar (Inell) Claypool, Orlando (Trina) Waters, Spenser (Alysa) Patterson, Lawrence Sandlin, and Devon Sandlin; nieces, Arlean Leland, Kim (George) Wade, Diana Sandlin, Wanda Jo Goshen, Danielle Patterson, Brenda (Archie) Mitchell, Ashley (Paul) Carter, Jacquese Waters, and Whitney Wade; special friends, Regina Cossey, Wanda Joshua, Betty Lyons, and Ella S. Monroe; and a host of great-great nieces and nephews, cousins, friends and caregivers.

Delores had the gifts of organization, planning, hospitality and a love for people. She used those gifts for the glory of God. She enjoyed parades, traveling and visiting family, and memorializing events with photos. During the course of her life, Delores survived six strokes, using each episode as a cause for gratefulness, fortitude and grace. She never complained and was always optimistic and hopeful. Whether you knew her as Lois, Dee, Ms. Dee, Auntie, Sunny Dee or Boss, she met no strangers.

Her soul has landed safely, softly and securely into the arms of an almighty God. Her faith and service to others have assured her, and us, that she rests in eternal power, peace and paradise.

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