Written by Sandra Riley Beckett
Ida Bell Toomer Riley celebrated her birthday on February 19th, but was actually born on February 10, 1924 in Philadelphia, PA. She was the 11th of 16 children born to the late Henry and Bertha Walker Toomer. She, along with her family moved from Philadelphia to Berlin, NJ when she was 2 years old. She was edu-cated in the Berlin Twp. School System and the Lower Camden County Regional High School District, graduating from Overbrook in Clementon, NJ.
On September 21, 1946 she was joined in Holy Matrimony to Minningham Riley, Jr. They built their home in Berlin and resided there until their deaths. They were blessed with five children, Sandra Lynn, Floyd Minningham, Wayne Edward, Leslie Vincent, and Beatrice Lucille Riley. Ida raised her children and then stretched out her hand to help rear her grand niece, Un-Sun Toomer. She was a loving and caring mother who took time with her family and trained them in the way that they should go.
For many years Ida worked as a seamstress in Philadelphia, PA and in Southern NJ. She was also employed as a Dietary Services Technician at the JFK Elementary School and at the Archway Lower School in Atco, NJ. She had a variety of hobbies and interests such as sewing, writing poetry, floral arranging, furniture refinishing, and playing a few chords on the piano. She attended Adult School to learn about floral arrangements and furniture refinishing.
With her gifted hands she would create masterpieces. She often made clothing for her family and others. She made Sandra’s wedding gown for her BIG LEAP over the broomstick and she made suits of many col-ors, solids and plaids for Floyd to show off in. She was his No.1 seamstress, and if she could make shoes, the designer shoemakers would have lost his business.
She was there for all of us. The long nights Wayne suffered with asthma attacks, she felt it too. During Leslie’s broken tooth, busted knee and ruptured appendix; Mom was by his side. Then there was the unfor-gettable birth of Bea, a special child. It took a special mother to nurture her, and God placed that gift in Ida.She was Bea’s ’ Baby Cakes’ and Bea was her Miracle Baby.
Ida’s greatest love was helping others. This was shown through her innumerable and frequent missionary acts. No matter what the circumstances, she extended her services to the sick, homeless, elderly and others with food, clothing, shelter, finances, a listening ear, words of comfort and encouragement.
Being raised in a family that had a firm Christian foundation, Ida’s earliest formal religious training was received at Mt. Carmel COGIC, Berlin, NJ. Later, with her parents, she attended the Disciples of Christ Church (now known as Pilgrim Rest Disciples of Christ) under the pastorate of Bishop William H. Bright, Sr.
As she matured, she made a decision to accept Christ as her personal Savior. She was a faithful Christian being totally committed to her Lord & Savior. She held numerous offices in the Youth and Sunday School Departments. She also served as a member of the Senior Choir and Church Clerk. Other positions held included that of Church Treasurer and Assistant Church Mother.
She did whatever had to be done whenever the need arose. Ida was a member of the Keen-Agers of Williamstown, NJ, the Faithful Followers of Erial and the Ladies Bible Study of Community Gospel Chapel, Voorhees, NJ. She was also a longtime member of the Ladies Auxiliary of American Legion Post #357.
In her immediate family, she saw all her children graduate from high school, Colleges and Technical Institutes, with Associates, Bachelors, and Masters Degrees in Reading Education, Educational Administration, Electronical Engineering and Business Administration. "Receiving encouragement and inspiration from Mom helped us to pursue our goals and ambitions."
Along with her husband, five children and niece, Ida was blessed to have one son-in-law, Elder Warner L. Beckett, Jr., three daughter-in-laws, Brenda, Rosalie and Marcelena Riley, and seven grandchildren, Warner L. Beckett, III (Trae),
Sean and Joy Beckett, Alyssa, Jeremy, Joshua and Jordan Riley. She was there for all of them and wanted to be a part of their lives as well. Once being released from the hospital instead of going home first, she wanted to go see her last grandchild that had been born. Many memories of Ida (Mom) at "Gan Mom’s house," will stay forever in our hearts, for she has left many whole-some treasures for us to savor; her smile, her love, her sharing, her caring, her giving, her living and her strength.
Ida departed this life on Sunday, March 12, 1995 from Presbyterian Hospital in Philadelphia, PA.
To God be the glory for the things He has done.
With loving memories,