Lula Mae Flowers, 81, devoted family matriarch

Posted: August 27, 2014

LULA MAE FLOWERS might have stood just 5 feet tall, but you didn't want to get her riled up.

One way to really bring out Lula Mae's combative nature was to do or say anything against her family.

"We must be very clear that if you tried to harm her family - especially her boys - this 5-foot lady would single-handedly make you regret that decision," her family said in a tribute.

Other than that, Lula Mae was a loving and nurturing woman, a cook whose pigs feet and barbecue ribs were family legends, and a shopper whose devotion to finding a bargain kept storekeepers on their toes all over the city.

Lula Mae died Aug. 16. She was 81 and lived in South Philadelphia.

Her fierce determination to take care of her family against any obstacle was demonstrated by the way she cared for her husband in his final illness.

"Even on days when Lula couldn't walk up the stairs, she'd refuse help and literally crawl up the steps to care for her husband," her family said.

After all, she and Zy Flowers had been together for 53 years, "and it was well-known that you could not, nor should you try, to come between that bond," her family said.

Lula was born in Allendale, S.C., to Lillie and Calvin Brant. She was educated in the Allendale public schools, and came to Philadelphia to be with her mother and sister, Annie, who arrived a few years before her.

They lived on Pemberton Street near 22nd in South Philadelphia, "a block that will forever remain rich in her family's heritage because of the values - faith, family and friends - that Lula and her ancestors instilled in all of the generations they encountered," her family said.

After arriving here, Lula worked as a nanny for area families for more than 30 years, "raising and imparting wisdom into all generations."

"Lula did not teach her family how to get rich; she taught them how to treat people," her family said. "She had a way of teaching life lessons through the stories she shared."

Many a family member saved money by accompanying Lula on shopping trips.

"You have not been shopping until you've gone shopping with Lula, and with her by your side you could be sure to get the best deal in town," her family said. "Without a doubt, Lula had probably been to every store in Philadelphia."

Lula was also devoted to community service, especially in her South Philly neighborhood.

"There was never a hungry mouth in her presence," her family said.

That was especially true of her family, who looked forward to feasting on her pigs feet, corn-bread stuffing, baked macaroni and cheese, hoecake bread, oxtail soup and her signature barbecue ribs and collard greens.

She is survived by four daughters, JoAnne, Betty Sue, Brenda and Julie; three sons, Sam Lee, Frank and Eric; 25 grandchildren and 36 great-grandchildren.

Services: Were Saturday. Burial was in Mount Zion Cemetery, Collingdale.

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