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Lillian Harrison

Lillian Harrison was celebrated by a host of friends and family on Wednesday, May 1, 2024, at the Tabernacle of Deliverance for All People. She was interred at Woodlawn Crematory.

Her funeral service was recorded and can be viewed at this link.


The amazing Lillian "Slim" Harrison (Wright), a loving Mother Grandma, Grammy, Nana, auntie, cousin, “sis”, mentor, resource, second mom, your biggest fan, and friend passed away in Mount Sinai Hospital in Harlem, New York on Monday, April 22, 2024, at 6:36 pm, taking her last breaths with her loving and dedicated daughter, April S. Harrison at her side.

Lillian was born on Sunday, June 30th, 1940, in Sumter, South Carolina, to the Charlie (Charley) and Ida Ruth (Bradley) Harrison. She was the youngest of this union, with brother Charles Harrison (the middle) and her sister Clara Mae Chandler (the oldest). After their mother Ida passed in 1942, it was decided that she live with her biological aunt, Clara “Shug” and her husband, Brass Wright, who she affectionately called “Mama” and “Daddy”.

She thrived and was educated in the South Carolina school system. In high school her peers started calling “Slim” because of her slender stature. She was popular and excelled in her studies and on the girls’ basketball team. Sometime after graduating from Ebenezer High School, she headed to Harlem, New York (1960) to live with Matthew “Uncle Mills” and Essie Mae Mills (her mother’s sister and brother-in-law). In the early 1960’s, Lillian met Freddie J. Holmes. Their friendship developed into loving supportive relationship (until his passing on December 29, 1993).

July 14th, 1968, they welcomed a healthy, big-jawed baby girl, April Sharlone Harrison “Holmes”. They spoiled her always with love, time, travel experiences, books, toys, toys and yes toys. (Toys that she would offer to give away if her company would stay and play a little longer). During their time together, “Lil” and Freddie, traveled frequently, especially since he was James Brown’s Road Manager (and cousin). They were definitely “Cool Kids” enjoying the Harlem life, whether it was a blue light party, rent party, Smalls Paradise, Cotton Club, or The Savoy Ballroom. Her and her squad or “cut buddies” (Alma, Esther “Hut”, Evelyn, Chickie, Curtistine, Ginger, Richardean and Virginia and her twin), were often out and about in Harlem too. No matter where else they went it was The Apollo that was always poppin’ for. It was also one the places where she would make arrangements for her young nieces, nephews and cousins to go in happily, even giving them goodies bags. Often accompanied sometimes with her big sis, “Mae” and her cousin/brother Charles Wells (his wife Betty) would often go watch her brother, Charles (wife Helen), and his band play where their gigs were.

Several incidences over her 83 years shaped Lillian into the strong sassy humorous and focused God-fearing woman of color you remember. However, 1989, 1994, and 2002 changed her life forever.

- In 1989, Lillian heard a faint knock on the door of her ‘44th Street apartment. Enter stage left...this adorable kinda quiet small thumb sucking two-year-old with a big suitcase and four ninja turtles. From that moment, Master Aaron Alexander E. McFarlane owned the lives of everyone as he traipsed behind ‘his’ April and loved on his Grandma profusely.

- After an early morning start on September 29, 1994, center have a screaming, extremely alert light-eyed 4lb 11oz sweetheart. He, figuratively, tattooed his name (of his Nana’s heart as Master Gerald Isaac Bryan, Jr…Nana’s Baby Boy.

- As an attempt to not be left out, a timid little wide-eyed thumb- sucking cutie peeking through the door. Enter stage right, 2002 rolling onto the scene Miss Diamond Ramona Sapphire Mercedes.

In the mid ‘80’s, she met Phillip Morris, becoming part of the dynamic duo, “Phil & Lil”. Those two were definitely #relationshsipgoals, traveling, cookouts, concerts, sports games, and so forth until his passing on July 14, 1994. From this union, she became the proud “Grandma Lil” to Jaleesa, Jason and Tiffany Morris.

Lillian’s humble, but not so easy upbringing caused her to push through it all. Grit. It was truly her passion and perseverance to be better and do better that had her goal setting, implementing and completing everything. She worked hard, mostly as a single parent, to give her child what she did not have and never treat her the way she was treated...she NEVER did. She made sure to instill a solid work ethic, “always do your best...” “know when to and when not to...” “kill them with kindness” and “never be someone’s footstool” “do what you love” “smile” “treat people kind...” “be blessed” and remember that it is important to have your education.

Her early jobs were working in the garment district. However, the majority of her experience was in the Human Services Field, as she was always willing to help meet the needs of not just family but everyone she encountered.

She was always conscious or unconsciously focusing on prevention as well as remediation of problems and maintaining a commitment to helping people and assisting with the improvement of people’s quality of life. Whether your path crossed from 123rd Street, 132nd Street, 129th Street, 144th Street, Sumter, SC, Community Life Center, Reedhlan

now Harlem Children’s Zone, the 125th Woolworth, Bloomstein, Grandparents Group, Settlement House, a Senior Center, St. Phillips Church, Fresh Air Fund, City College, H.A.D.L.E.Y. Players or wherever, she welcomed you with her warmth and easiness. She loved on you with good food, laughs and conversation. She poured into you with “knowing” verbiage, a listening ear, the truth, her experience, and if she was comfortable with you...then you got the look. The look that told you to: sit ya butt still, stop it right now, or the knowing look that had you following her eyes to some foolishness that other folks were doing. Whatever it is you received from Funtee, Neena, Auntie, Grandma Lil, Lil, Ms. Lil, Ms. Harrison, or for the family for whatever reason (we don’t know) she is affectionately known as LIAN (pronounced lee-yan) feel this loss.

Diagnosed with Pancreatic Cancer, over a year ago, she fought the hard tough fight continuing to be (as she said) “…the rainbow in someone’s else’s cloud.”

Lillian was preceded in death by a host of family including: the late Clara Mae Chandler (the late James “Junior," Marvin, Shirley, Melvin, & Celeste), the late Charles Harrison (Mary “Tootsie," Gene, the late Vivian “Anne," Aretha, Charles, & Christopher) and the late Mary Miles (the late Ronnie “PeeWee”, the late Bobby, Jimmie Lee “Pete”, Patricia, and Denise “Dobbie”).


She is survived by her daughter, April Sharlone Harrison, her heartbeats: her Baby Boy, Gerald Isaac Bryan, Jr., her Air, Aaron A.E. McFarlane, her Eight-ball, Diamond R.S. Mercedes (Journee), her nephew Jimmie Lee “Pete” Miles, Step-brother, Daniel O’Neal, Godchildren: Denzel, Jazzmyn, and Bryanna Byrd, Bonus Children: the late Woodrow “Woodie” (Angel, the late Sean, Woodie, Jeffrey), Curtis, Freddie (Mesha), Allen (Amir & Amando) Kathy (Katrina, Kajuan, Victor, & Mark), Gladys (the late Raysean, Aaron, & Diamond), Willie (Little Willie & Diamond), Cheryl (Abree, Chanice, & Hamira), along with

great-grands, cousins, close friends, and associates.

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