Adrenis Carter Reid, a prominent figure of Baltimore’s Bethel AME Church and mother of head pastor the Rev. Dr. Frank Madison Reid III, died Aug. 21 at age 90 after a three-year battle with Alzheimer’s Disease.
Reid was a surrogate mother to the Bethel congregation for the past 26 years, and though her life was no crystal stair, she accomplished her greatest labor: the success and educational attainments of her four children.
“In the words of Maya Angelou, she was a phenomenal woman,” the Rev. Reid said of his mother.
An honor student in high school, Adrenis Reid had been forced to enter the workforce and forego college because of an illness to her mother, and she labored to spare her children a similar fate.
“She would always say, ‘I just want the Lord to let me live to see my children be successful, to have their own homes, to have degrees, and to be great contributors to society,’” said Stephanie Reid, Adrenis Reid’s youngest daughter and her principal caregiver in the final years of her life.
Stephanie Reid recalled a mother with a high standard of excellence who poured everything she had into making sure that her children would live a better life than she did. All of Adrenis Reid’s children received the college education she had to sacrifice, and her son is the head pastor of one of Baltimore City’s most significant institutions of the past 50 years.
“She was a determined and sometimes caustic corrector, but she was a great encourager,” the Rev. Reid said.
That encouragement is something Adrenis Reid shared not only with her family, but with the entire congregation at Bethel AME, where her son has pastored since 1988.
“She was just a gracious lady,” said Baltimore City Comptroller Joan Pratt, who will mark her 40th year as a member of Bethel in 2015.
“She was a friend to me and…she was kind, she was a very humble woman, she was gentle, and she was patient with the members of her son’s church,” Pratt said. “She was very nurturing. She was dearly loved by the members of Bethel.”
Pratt has issued an official resolution from the office of the comptroller extending her sympathies to the family and honoring Adrenis.
The Rev. Reid said Langston Hughes’s poem “Mother to Son” best captures his mother. The poem ends with a mother’s exhortation:
“So boy, don’t you turn back.
Don’t you set down on the steps
’Cause you finds it’s kinder hard.
Don’t you fall now—
For I’se still goin’, honey,
I’se still climbin’[.]”
Reid is preceded in death by her eldest daughter, Adrenise Reid, who died in 2002 after a bout with cancer. She is survived by her 92 year-old sister, Vivian Carter Jenkins; her children Frank Madison Reid III, Vanessa Lewter, and Stephanie Reid; as well as five grandchildren and four great-grandchildren.
Funeral services will take place Aug. 23 at Bethel AME Church, 1300 Druid Hill Avenue in Baltimore. A viewing is scheduled from 7:30 a.m. to 10 a.m., with a service celebrating Reid’s life to follow from 10:16 a.m. to 12:01 p.m. Services will be followed by interment at Arbutus Memorial Park cemetery at 1101 Sulphur Spring Road in Baltimore.