Only God could have known what He would do in the birth of Harem Smallwood, Sr. on January 31, 1936, through the late Wilson and Hazel Smallwood. Having been born in a community known as the Low Meadows in Rich Square, North Carolina, Harem, also known as J.P., would take his experience of sharecropping and close-knitted relationship with his family throughout his life and working career. J.P. attended grammar school in Rich Square and graduated from W.S. Creecy High School where he became well known in his hometown as one of the high school bus drivers.
Knowing J.P., everyone understood his need to just be busy. He could not sit still constantly finding something to do. Even if it meant creating a project for others to participate in.
Before leaving Rich Square, he made the decision to marry Menervia Mable Smallwood. Mable and J.P. were married in New Jersey. J.P. and Mable have three children, Patricia Ann, Harem, Jr., also known as Junie, and Greta Renee who he lovingly called his Boo. J.P.’s eldest daughter, Brenda, resided in North Carolina and developed an unconditional-loving relationship with his siblings and would often visit New Jersey where time spent was just too short.
J.P. worked for Greystone Hospital caring for those in need but found his real love as a short order-cook where he worked for Sip & Sup. When he retired, he continued his love for cooking in stopping by Dick and Judy’s Restaurant helping to prepare meals. He loved preparing beans and looked forward to visiting North Carolina where his sister Ruby, also known as Tune, would prepare a pot of Pinto Beans and Biscuits. Honestly, Daddy couldn’t wait to get to North Carolina just to have a meal prepared by his sisters, Ruby and Ruth.
J.P. and Mable were known for their swing dancing and would capture the attention of crowds whenever they took the floor with his three-piece suits and Mable’s Diana Ross big hair dos. The Terrace Ballroom, family gatherings, and many other venues had a hard time keeping their floors clean when J.P. and Mable took the floor.
On any giving day and afternoon, you could find J.P. in Weequahic Park sitting in his lawn chair and chit chatting with his friends, the Weequahic Center Seniors. The relationships developed by these men and women were ordained by God. Their concern and care for one another are models of what it means to exemplify the meaning of the love of Christ and true friendships.
During the time of his hospitalization at Cooperman Barnabas Medical Center, in Livingston, New Jersey, everyday calls and text messages were received by either a Weequahic Center Senior, a concerned family member residing in New Jersey or from North Carolina, friends of the Cathedral Int’l Church, and a host of doctors who would run into his daughters during their early morning rounds. Dad refused to lose hope and called on Jesus every single day of his hospitalization. Nothing could stop him in believing that God can do anything, and God did!!! We witnessed a miraculous move of God as our father crossed over. We will never forget what we saw and just how Mighty our God is. As his beloved family, my father leaves to miss his presence, his daughters; Brenda Grant of Wendell, North Carolina, Patricia Ann Smallwood-Jeffries of Milford, Delaware, Greta Renee Smallwood of Hillside, New Jersey; his son, Harem Smallwood(Karen) of Williamsburg, VA; his siblings, Redell Smallwood of Paterson, NJ; the late Ruth and Ruby Smallwood of Woodland, North Carolina, the late Herbert Smallwood of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, Willie Ann Ransome of Speed, North Carolina, Gloria Jean Belfied, James Bell, Richard Bell and McKinley Bell of Lewiston, North Carolina; and Marie Bishop, Sheppard Bell, and Stanley Bell of Roxobel, North Carolina; sister-in laws, Annie Helton of Scotland Neck, North Carolina, Leah Greene (Freddie) of Plainfield, New Jersey; Barbara King of Atlanta, Georgia, Patty Bellamy of Plainfield, New Jersey; bother-in laws, Joseph King of Newark, New Jersey; the late Vernon (Julia) King and the late Jimmy King, Jr. of Newark, New Jersey.
Honorary son and daughter in-law, Vernon King, Jr. (Doris); his honorary Grandchildren whom he loved dearly; KeSean King, Grandson, and Ja’Niya King, Granddaughter of Newark, New Jersey.
Also, mourning is his special caretaker, cook, and friend; Granddaughter, Alexis Monet Johnson and his second honorary Grandson, Andre Staten of Newark, New Jersey; Grandsons, Aaron Smallwood of San Antonio, Texas; Desmond Smallwood of Williamsburg, Virginia; Terrance Grant of Charlotte, North Carolina; Granddaughters, Lakisha Grant of Wendell, North Carolina, Tokisha Grant of Raleigh, North Carolina; and a host of other relatives and great friends, particularly the Weequahic Center Seniors.
We are so very grateful for the family members and friends who unselfishly held up our arms as we stayed by our father’s side during his hospitalization. Your late night and early morning calls to check on our well-being and your offer to assist us will never be forgotten. Thirty-eight days of prayer, standing in the gap for us as, we cared for him will never be forgotten.
Thank each of you who prepared meals and who met us at restaurants to grab a bite to eat as we planned for his Home Going Service. Even for your words of Wisdom to take care of ourselves as we took care of him. We love you each of you dearly.
A special thanks to the Weequahic Center Seniors for loving my Father, making him feel special, and respected. Now we truly understand why he would break his neck to get to the park. We thank God for you, and we will never forget your support.
Greta and Alexis, we shared so much during our times together in caring for our father and grandfather; and I honestly don’t know where I would be without you both. Our hearts may feel empty and broken for now, yet God is able to sustain us, and He will.
To my Spiritual Sisters who I can call in the Spirit, I know God ordained our relationships. I love each of you, dearly; and I am grateful for the husband who gave me the medical advice I needed to make decisions on behalf of my father. You held my heart in your hands as I trusted your prayerful advice.