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325 West 14th Street
New York City, NY 10014
Phone: 212-242-1456
Fax: 212-242-9834
Etta Perdue

Etta Wilma Perdue

Thursday, February 6th, 1930 - Sunday, February 28th, 2021
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“When you know better, you do better” - Maya Angelou

Etta Wilma Perdue, one of eight children of Norris Jordan and Frank Perdue was born on February 6, 1930, in Luxor, Pa. and grew up in Rochester, N.Y. She attended UCLA ‘Go Bruins’ and dearly loved the state of California.

Etta was married to William Eugene, her husband for over 45 years, and made their living as apartment building managers and caretakers, mostly in Detroit, Mi.

Etta had a life long appreciation of Jackie Robinson, whom she and her family knew personally. Etta was in awe of his ability to control his hot temper in order to sacrifice to be the ‘first’. She admired Beverly Sills, mainly due to her being such a devoted mother to her disabled children.

Odetta, Etta believed, was a rock star of folk music. Another folk singer, Marcia Berman, whom she admired so much, that she named her eldest daughter for her. Etta was a cheerleader of other ‘firsts’. John F. Kennedy, the first Catholic president. Pope John Paul II, the first Polish pope. The Obamas, the first African American first family. She was also ‘first’ in her nuclear family to develop an admiration for new technology, especially instant messaging.

Although she lived in Detroit, Etta’s taste in music was not limited to “the Motown Sound” emanating from the city of rock and roll. She was also fond of jazz, opera, folk and country.

Etta, always eager to be a perfect host, would have her favorite German chocolate cake and other fresh baked goods available for guests.

Canada was her ‘go to place’, enjoying many trips to Windsor, Toronto, Montreal, and Quebec. Etta also partook of a once in a lifetime visit to Rome, Italy. She journeyed there with her daughter, Marcia, and fellow members of her church community. It was a ‘perfect trip’.

Etta was a caregiver to her husband, Billy, for six years, as he suffered through emphysema. She also cared for her youngest daughter Paula, from the age of 2 until her passing at the age of 56, who was mentally challenged but spiritually wise.

After the passing of Billy and Paula, Etta spent some time living with her sister Phyllis. And then peacefully transferred to living with her daughter, Marcia, and her family in New York City. Although being diagnosed with Alzheimer’s in 2010, she was blessed to thrive. With help from her new neighbors in Harlem, including Craig Harris of the Harlem Jazz series and his wife Diane, who welcomed Etta into their home, Etta’s transition to New York was a delight after leaving her beloved Detroit. Craig considered her to be regal and one of the inspirations to his music. Etta became popular for her crowning glory white “fro”, compliments of her Harlem barber Cliff, and received constant praise for her presence.

Years ago, when her children Paula and Marcia Ann were 6 and 7 years old, they were promised by a neighbor, to receive a chihuahua. The promise was broken, so the girls cried every day. Their father ‘Billy’ said he would get them a chihuahua, to which Etta responded “no chihuahuas, they are mean, nasty and noisy”. One day soon after, the girls were called in from playing outside. When Paula and Marcia went up to their father, he had a small bundle, wrapped with a red and white checkered scarf. When he unwrapped it, in the palm of his hands was a teeny tiny red sable chihuahua. The children danced with glee. Etta was ecstatic and commented“it’s the most sweetest thing I’ve ever seen”. She took the dog from her husband and cradled it like a baby. She was totally smitten. Thus began a life long love affair with chihuahuas. The family also had a black Labrador and several other pets.

Etta is predeceased by her siblings Edward, Paul, Jack, Norris, Jean and Lucy. Etta is survived by her baby sister Phyllis, her daughter Marcia Ann, son-in-law Michael, grandson Alex, honorary daughter Deborah Whitaker and her sister Amie, numerous nieces, nephews and friends.

Thanks to all, with a special shout out to her daughter’s former Chelsea neighbors Alphonse and Mark, hairstylist Bernadette, all of Etta’s Harlem neighbors, St. Marks the Evangelist church community, Detroit’s St. Augustine and St. Monica church families, Fr. Dan and Deacon Joe, Mary McIntosh, Rev. Blessed, Mrs. Annie Jones and the Barnes, the Morton, Pickett, Guye andMarshall families, Ronnie Perdue and Mr. Sharp. Shout out to dear friends Theresa and Henry, Joanna Tankel, the Hausmans, and the “Two Paulas” (Soloway and McRae).

Extreme appreciation is given to the Church of St. Francis Xavier and Redden’s Funeral home.

Will let me be your servant?

Let me be as Christ to you

Pray that I may have the grace

To let you be my servant too

We are pilgrims on the journey

We are travelers on the road

We are here to help each other

Walk the mile and bear the load

I will hold the Christ light for you

In the nighttime of your fear

I will hold my hand out to you

Speak the peace you long to hear

I will weep when you are weeping

When you laugh, I’ll laugh with you

I will share your joy and sorrow

Till we’ve seen this journey through

​​​David Haas
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