The Seventh Child: She Made Us Happy, Optimistic
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Harlem residents know Ms. Freddie Mae Baxter as the neighborhood’s grand dame, the mother of the community and oftentimes considered “mayor.” With a big laugh, she hugged strangers and always greeted longtime neighbors with an effusive smile, in an upbeat, friendly style. At the sound of jazz playing in the streets, she’d stop suddenly to dance, swaying hips from side to side, with fancy footwork and snapping her fingers to the beat. A joie de vivre or “zest for life” was her signature.
On December 30, 2018, Mrs. Baxter made her transition from earth. She leaves a loving family, community and friends from across the country to mourn her passing.
The Denmark, South Carolina native was born in 1923 on August 15, the seventh of eight children. She picked cotton then, cooked for white families in the town before making a decision to make a move. New York was the place that held the promise of better opportunities.
She made a living as a domestic in homes of the well heeled and reared their children. Although limited in education and income, neither held her dreams captive.
From saxophone player in a female band to author of a book with a major publisher, Mrs. Baxter was a mentor to college and executive women.
At age 75, she wrote a book, “The Seventh Child, A Lucky Life” based on personal triumphs and tragedy in 1999. During media interviews, she met a Florida television host and formed a 20-year friendship. “I’ll never forget the day we met. She had lunch waiting for our 2-person crew. It included a freshly baked coconut cake,” said Vickie Oldham. “I’d called her every Sunday before or after church to discuss news of the day and our personal lives. She was always supportive of my work, offered advice about situations and was always full of optimism and energy. Each conversation ended with “I love you.”
Ms. Baxter leaves to cherish her precious and loving memories, lifelong friends Bernice Robinson and her son Richard who live in north Florida, a nephew Arthur Campbell and many other relatives and friends.