On December 26, 1944, the home of Deacon Jesse M. Blair and Sister Velma Cunningham was blessed with the arrival of their first child. They named her Ethel Pearl Blair. She was the oldest of four children.
Ethel attended her father’s baptist church beginning at an early age and developed her singing voice in the choir. She attended elementary school and Hooper City High School in the Birmingham area. She had to assume many household duties because of the untimely death of her mother and during summer hours she would make money for the household by cleaning houses.
After graduating from high school she moved to Petersburg, Virginia to attend college while residing with her aunt Francis. After a few years she decided to relocate to San Diego, California. Upon arriving here she immediately found employment with the San Diego Union Tribune. She remained employed there for over twenty years and was an unfortunate casualty of the downturn in the newspaper industry. During her employment with the Union Tribune she attended San Diego City College and completed many courses. After employment ceased with the Union Tribune she secured employment with the City of San Diego, working in the office of the City Council and the City Attorney. She retired from the City of San Diego because of declining health.
It was in March of 1975 that a love story began when Deacon Julius R. Bennett met Sister Ethel Blair in the parking lot of Macedonia Missionary. Shortly thereafter, they married in November of 1975. In September of 1991 Reverend Julius Bennett was installed as Pastor of the Macedonia Missionary Baptist Church and Sister Ethel Bennett became the church’s First Lady.
As the First Lady, Sister Ethel Bennett always greeted everyone she met with a welcome and a smile. For many years she was a member of the church choir. She had a beautiful contra alto voice and one of her favorite songs to sing was “We Are Marching to Zion”. She loved the little children in the church; she would often hold babies during service. Sister Bennett would often share words of wisdom one on one, and when she shared with you, she spoke as if you were her very own son or daughter. She genuinely cared about the well-being of others in all aspects of their lives.
Ethel loved to read the Bible and watch TV westerns. She enjoyed gardening and sitting in the sun and was active in women’s auxiliaries.
On a historical note, Ethel was subjected to water cannons during the height of the Birmingham riots. She endured the velocity of the water, which was so strong it tore her cloths off before being sent to jail. God’s divine providence kept her from attending service at the16th Street Baptist Church with four of her fellow church members who died in the infamous bombing of September 15, 1963.
Ethel transitioned from this world on May 27, 2019. She was preceded in death by her parents and brother Jessie Blair, Jr.
Left to mourn her loss and treasure her memories are husband Rev. Julius R. Bennett; sister Francis Robinson, Moreno Valley, CA; brother Oscar Blair, Moreno Valley, CA; niece Jamillah Robinson, Moreno Valley, CA; nephew Migayle Robinson, Moreno Valley, CA; and a host cousins, and other relatives in Birmingham Alabama; and her Church Family of Macedonia Missionary Baptist Church, San Diego, CA.
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