Mildred Sykes | Facebook
Tuesday, April 12, 2016 || By Michael Romain
Mourners packed the 1,200-seat sanctuary of the Second Baptist Church, 436 S. 13th Ave., in Maywood last Saturday to celebrate the life of Mildred Jean Sykes, who died on April 1 at the age of 82.
She was simply “Mily” or “Granny” to community members and the countless patrons who frequented the grocery store she founded with her late husband Robert Sykes, Sr., in 1965. The store, located at the corner of 13th Avenue and Randolph, was called Bob’s Grocery and it grew into something of a Maywood institution.
Despite its name, the establishment, which closed at least a decade ago, served an array of purposes besides selling food and goods. It was a gathering place for many and a bank for some.
The couple would often extend lines of credit to people when they couldn’t pay for the groceries, sometimes refusing repayments.
“People would ask Mrs. Sykes for different things when she was getting those dishes ready for us and neighbors and others who were in need of a meal,” said Preatha Rouse, a longtime family friend and member of Second Baptist, where Sykes was a lifelong member. “When my mother sent money to repay her, most of the time she wouldn’t accept it.”
The corner grocery was also a source of employment for virtually all of Sykes’s 30 grandchildren. One of them, Shameka Johnson, called the matriarch “my rose, my hero, my friend.”
Sykes was born Nov. 12, 1933 in Henderson, Texas to DeWalt and Orene Reedy. She moved to Maywood in the early 1950s “as a graduation gift from her cousin Jewel Brown,” according to the obituary. Shortly afterward, she met and married her husband Robert — the “apple of her eyes.”
The couple had five children by birth — Brenda, Marilyn, Robert, Jr., Patricia and Tracy — and adopted a son, John.
Mildred was active in the Maywood Chamber of Commerce and the John C. Vaughns Scholarship Fund Cotillion. She could often be seen “driving her little blue car around town taking friends to the doctor, grocery store, banquets” and anywhere else they needed to go.
Many of those people were among the hundreds in attendance at the Saturday service who witnessed a family member place a sparkling diadem on Sykes’s purple casket.
“She taught me how to become an independent lady, a mother, and the importance of giving back to your community,” wrote her daughter Tracy Sykes in a tribute printed in her mother’s obituary.
Sykes leaves behind 30 grandchildren, 44 great-grandchildren, six siblings and a host of relatives, friends and grateful neighbors.
Operation Uplift to host reunion kickoff/fundraiser, in lieu of annual luncheon
Operation Uplift, the Maywood nonprofit that operates the West Town Museum of Cultural History and hosts an annual Martin Luther King, Jr., luncheon, has announced that it will be hosting a reunion kickoff to help support and bring awareness to its daily services in lieu of a luncheon this year.
“Please help us continue to provide more cultural awareness to our local community, stimulate individual growth, community pride, and educate the Proviso Township area about the collections of art, artifacts and significant historical materials we hold within our doors,” according to a recent release put out by the organization.
The reunion kickoff activities will include educational tours, an African attire fashion show, live entertainment and food.
It will take place on Saturday, April 30, from 1 PM to 4 PM, at Operation Uplift/West Town Museum, 104 S. 5th Avenue, Maywood.
Donations or pledges of any amount are greatly appreciated. Those who give via checks should make them payable to: Operation Uplift, Inc.
For more information please call Jeri Stenson at 708-289-4955 or email firstname.lastname@example.org. VFP
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