Paralee Wilmer (née Williams) was born April 1, 1924, to Frank and Sadie Williams in Millers Ferry, Alabama. The youngest daughter of twelve children, her siblings who all preceded her in transition to the next life included Johnny, Elmo, Posey, Nell, Pat, Clara, Frank Jr., Ida Mae, Paul, Lincoln and Samuel. She was affectionately called “Aunty Lee” by her numerous nieces and nephews, and was known for her outstanding culinary skills and her keen ability to sew from scratch or tailor any outfit. Paralee possessed a wry sense of humor and quick wit that were no match for the faint of heart, but was mutually appreciated by family and friends who could keep up with her repartee. During her last days on this earth, she truly enjoyed visits from family and friends in celebration of her 97th birthday.
Raised on her family’s farm in Millers Ferry, Paralee helped her parents grow cotton, peanuts, green beans, black eyed peas, corn, collard, mustard and turnip greens. As sharecroppers, the family sold their hard-earned produce as well as homemade cakes and ice cream. When the white landowner tried to force Frank and Sadie to keep their children out of school in order to increase production on the farm, Paralee’s parents refused. The Williams were smart, proud and resourceful, and their greatest asset was each other.
Paralee met and married the love of her life, Richard Wilmer, in Alabama. Richard was a soldier in the United States Army and traveled with the military shortly after they married. Paralee moved to Mobile with her sister, Ida Mae, then to Selma, and eventually joined her sisters, Nell and Clara in Cincinnati, Ohio, in search of greater job opportunities and freedoms. After completing his military duties, Richard joined Paralee in Cincinnati and worked for the post office.
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