Regina (Grant) Bess departed from this earthly life Monday, June 24, 2019 at St. Luke Lutheran Community. Regina was born in Forkland, Alabama on December 31, 1927 to the late Sadie Lee (Ellis) Whetstone and Samuel Grant. She moved to Canton, Ohio at the age of 13, graduated from McKinley High School, and married the late Carl Bess at the age of 19. They were married for 37 years until his death.
She became one of the first elevator operators to work for the Onesto Hotel, The First National Bank and The Stark County Courthouse. Anyone who ever rode one of her elevators would remember her cheerful personality, her warm and winning smile, and her pretty legs! She worked at Gold Circle department store as a telephone operator, and for Easter Seals as a respite caretaker for developmentally disabled adults. She had a heart for those less fortunate than her. She was also the first African American woman hired as an administrator by the Stark County Commissioner’s Public Works Department. One of her most rewarding jobs was working as a counselor for the 4-H Youth Program allowing her to help adolescent girls develop positive citizenship and leadership skills as well as healthy living & nutrition skills. She loved teaching young girls the basics of etiquette and how to carry themselves like ladies. Her creative talents and joys included gardening, fishing, traveling, listening to the blues, making her own church hats and dressing fashionably.
Her last wish was to help homeless people stay warm in the winter. She wanted to make a difference. For her 90th birthday party, in lieu of gifts, she asked friends and family to bring blankets to be given out to homeless shelters. Thirty blankets were brought in and taken to local shelters. As a result of that, “Regina’s Winter Drive” was birthed.
Regina loved the Lord and her faith was strong. In her earlier years, she served on the usher boards of Shiloh Baptist church and Jerusalem Baptist church, and in her later years she moved her membership to Life Ministries International Church.
Regina is preceded in death by her parents Sadie Lee (Ellis) Whetstone and Samuel Grant; her husband, Carl Bess; her daughter, Carole Bronson; her siblings, Louvenia Robinson, Ida Griffin, Ann Baker and Charles Ellis. She leaves to cherish her memory, her siblings: Alberta Dennis of Springfield, MO, Charles (Beulah) Grant of Goldsboro, NC, Ronald (Hilary) Whetstone of Belvidere, IL, Cynthia Forester-Whetstone of Detroit, MI, Brenda Cotton of Mansfield Center, CT, Shirley Jones of Las Vegas, NV. Her two daughters: Marguerite aka Rita (Victor) Young of Cleveland Heights, OH, Lydia (Terry) Lee of Canton. Her 6 grandchildren: Marcus Bronson of Chicago, IL, Terry Lee, Jr. of Orlando, Fl, Ryan Bronson of Canton, Korry (Rachel) Lee of Columbus, OH, Sommer (Eddie) Clayborne of Toledo, OH, Karl Lee of Columbus, OH. Her 6 great-grandchildren: BryShawn, Malayna, Terry III, David, Kenzie, Parker. Her special niece, Darlene Jefferson of Chicago, IL, and her god-daughters Darlean Strickland and Adrienne Chavers of Canton. She is survived by a host of loving nephews, nieces and cousins.
The family would like to send a special thank you to the nurses and aides at St. Luke Lutheran Community for the special care given to Regina; Aultman Hospital Cardiac Care nurses & doctors; Reverend Tommie Brewer for his many visits and prayers; Deacons of Life Ministries for their visits and administering communion; and all those who have reached out in any capacity with kind gestures, words and support. We thank God for you!