Funeral services for Chicago matriarch Charlie Mae Brown Snowden are scheduled at Trinity United Church of Christ, 400 W. 95th Street, for Friday January 24. Visitation will be from 11 a.m. to 12 p.m. The funeral service will be from 12 p.m. to 1 p.m.
Snowden passed after a brief illness on January 8; she was 96.
Born in Mound Bayou, Mississippi, Snowden at three years of age became a part of history as one of six million African Americans who traveled North in search of a better life during the Great Migration.
Settled in Chicago, Snowden attended Carter Elementary School and later matriculated at DuSable High School, graduating in 1941. Following graduation, she held several odd jobs, including work as a waitress and as a hotel domestic.
Shortly after high school she met a young John Willis Snowden, who shared her vision for their future. The couple married and had five children.
Regarded as an ever present and supportive mother she kept the Snowden children involved in various activities and was equally involved herself, volunteering in such activities as Boy Scouts of America, Girl Scouts of America, and the Blue Birds (the junior organization to the Camp Fire Girls).
Snowden was also active in the community, serving on the Mother’s Board of the Parkway Gardens Homes, the Women’s Auxiliary of the Woodlawn Little League and the Mother’s Board of the Parkway Gardens Christian Church.
Though busy with home and children she remained devoted to her church, Coppin Memorial AME Church, serving the congregation in numerous capacities including as a member of the Women’s Chorus, the Chancel Choir, and as a Sunday School teacher. She joined the Excelsior’s Club, a major fund-raising arm of the Church.
The club organized many events, the largest an annual fashion show which each year raised thousands of dollars for Coppin. The energetic Snowden was chairman of the fashion show on two occasions, a role she was well suited for as she was known for her impeccable sense of style and her organizational skills.
She parlayed her love of fashion into a career, as a working woman at retailer Saks Fifth Avenue, in non-sales positions, for more than 36 years. She was recognized as a valuable employee while at Saks, receiving several employee awards and letters of appreciation.
She was a staunch union member, and an officer in the Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union (R.W.D.S.U.) of the AFL-CIO, Local 291.
Following retirement, Snowden traveled, socialized, and served her church, all while fundraising for her high school alumni association, the DuSable 41ers.
She counted the election of America’s first Black president as an awe-inspiring event, expressing gratitude for all the things God allowed her to live long enough to experience.
Among the highlights of her awards she noted the commendation bestowed upon her by the City of Chicago when she turned 95 years old, and a commemorative letter from her church, Coppin Memorial AME, acknowledging a life well-lived and a job well done.
Snowden is survived by four of her children, John Jr., Gertrude, Attorney Charles, and Lawrence.
She was grandmother to April, Darrin, Kitwana, Nathalie, Tahirah, John III, Sylvia, Lydia, and Charles II. She had 11 great grandchildren, Robert, Brandon, Julian, Kameela, Kaliah, Nayla, Darryl Jr., Nyla, Tyla, Mason, and Harrison; and three great-great-grandchildren, Kevin, Kev’ron, and Riley.