Oumis Randolph, 97, World War II veteran, champion gardener and cook.

Posted: July 19, 2013

WHEN OUMIS Randolph was working at the Philadelphia Naval Shipyard in the late 1960s, a 500-pound weight fell on him, shattering his ribs and legs.

Doctors at the Naval Hospital, where he spent almost a year, told him he would never walk again.

Oh, yeah?

They didn't know who they were dealing with. Oumis Randolph was a man with powerful determination. He did what he needed to do, no matter the circumstances, and at that time his need was to walk again.

He did, astounding his doctors and his family.

"He walked better than I did," said his daughter, Carolyn Randolph. "He never even limped."

Sometimes in rainy weather, the pain started, but you wouldn't hear it from him. "He was never a complainer," his daughter said.

Oumis Randolph, a dedicated gardener whose roses were the envy of the neighborhood, an imaginative cook, a fisherman who enjoyed frying up his catch after plying the waters of the Chesapeake Bay, Army veteran of World War II and devoted family patriarch, died July 12. He was 97 and lived in Mount Airy.

When he was driven home from the hospital in an ambulance, he couldn't resist calling the crew's attention to his garden.

"Look at my roses," he told them. "Aren't they beautiful?"

A neighbor once looked at the flowers and asked, "Are those roses fake?" his daughter said. "I said, 'No, they're real.' "

Oumis grew up working on a farm in Crawfordville, Ga. He entered the Army from there in 1942 and served with the 390th Engineers in Europe. He was discharged in 1945.

After the war, he married Willie Mae Mitchell, and went to work at the Naval Shipyard.

The accident ended his working days, but he continued to remain active. He and a group of pals made frequent excursions to Virginia to hire a boat and fish in the Chesapeake.

He was remarkably healthy through most of his life, and recently told his family, "I'm a tough old man."

He refused to join a senior-citizens group because he said he didn't want to hang out with a bunch of old people.

"He was very independent," Carolyn said.

He loved to cook and made a beef soup, stuffed with meat and vegetables, that was a family favorite. Along with his fried fish, Oumis also specialized in preparing oxtail, a Caribbean dish served with rice and vegetables.

Oumis was a passionate Phillies fan and when they played, he monopolized the lone TV in the house.

His wife died in 1992. He was also devastated by the loss of a daughter, Dorothy, who died last November of Parkinson's disease.

"They were very close," Carolyn said. "Her death broke his heart. He really missed her."

Besides his daughter, he is survived by two other daughters, Evelyn Bazemore and Sarah Glass; an adopted son, Haneef Shaheedi; three grandchildren and one great-grandchild.

Services: 11 a.m. today at Triumph Baptist Church, 1648 W. Hunting Park Ave. Friends may call at 9 a.m. Burial will be at Ivy Hill Cemetery.

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