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Lillian Elizabeth Gaither, 93, was born in Montgomery, Alabama on October 14, 1918 to the late Vohu and Carrie Lou Johnson. She went home to be with her Lord on August 10, 2012.
She was the 2nd oldest of 11 siblings and helped to raise her brothers and sisters who were younger than her. She was affectionately known as "Sister" and "Mother Gaither" by her family and friends. Because of the job opportunities in New Castle, her family moved to New Castle when she was 4 years old.
Mother Gaither was educated in the New Castle Area School District. She worked at the Shenango Pottery, and was later the 1st cook for the Lawrence County Meals on Wheels.
She married (the late) Israel L. Gaither II on April 17, 1939. To this marriage was born 5 children. She loved to tell others of her children's accomplishments: her son, Commissioner Israel Gaither was the 1st African-American Chief of Staff of The Salvation Army; her daughter, Dr. Judy McConnell-Jackson was an Associate Dean of Admissions and Minority Student Affairs, as well as a professor of Educational Leadership at Miami University of OH; her daughter, Dr. Jacqueline Respress, was the first African-American and first female principal of both the Ben Franklin Jr High School and the New Castle Jr/Sr High School; her daughter, Kathy Gaither-Cotten works for Yale University Psychiatric Hospital; and daughter, Carmilla was a Social Worker for the state of Connecticut.
Mother Gaither has worked in ministry down through the years. She and her husband organized the House of Prayer in October 1962 after many years of worship in homes in the True Light Prayer and Bible Band. She has served in various positions in the church: Financial Secretary, Treasurer, Sunday School Teacher, founder and 1st President of the Missionary Society, and choir member. She was a great woman of God and inspiration to many. She read her Bible daily, and was a prayer warrior. She was a woman of wisdom and courage. She was the first "First Lady" of the House of Prayer Church of God in Christ.
She was preceded in death by her husband and daughters, Carmilla and Judy.
She is survived by her son and daughter-in-law, Commissioners Israel and Eva Gaither of Pittsburgh, daughter and son-in-law, Dr. Jacqueline and Rev. Torrance Respress of New Castle and daughter, Kathy Gaither-Cotten of New Haven, Ct. She is also survived by sister, Theodosia Terry of New Castle, and 2 brothers, Harold Johnson and Vohn Johnson of Youngstown, OH, "adopted" daughter Judy Lockett, and a host of grandchildren, great grandchildren, great-great grandchildren, nieces, nephews, and the House of Prayer C.O.G.I.C. church family.
Funeral arrangements have been entrusted to and visitation will be at the Ed and Don DeCarbo Funeral Home and Crematory, Inc., 3000 Wilmington Road, New Castle, PA on Friday, August 17, 2012 from 5:00 - 8:00 P.M.
A celebration of her life will be held on Saturday, August 18, 2012 at noon at the House of Prayer COGIC, 703 Sampson Street, New Castle, PA. Interment will be in Graceland Cemetery.