Isabella Washington was the eighth of thirteen children born of the marital union of Lewis and Myrille Washington. Bella, as she was affectionately known, was born on February 12, 1938, in Harlem, New York in a taxicab en route to the hospital. In retrospect, this was probably an indication of the unpredictable and unforgettable woman she was to become. Bella also had 3 older paternal half-siblings from a previous union. She grew up surrounded by all of her siblings and, at an early age, developed an awareness of the importance of family. Bella was educated in the New York City Public School System and graduated from Julia Richman High School. Bella retired in 2003 after a lengthy career at Greater Harlem Nursing Home. Additionally, she worked in sales of fur coats for over 50 years, which she truly enjoyed, she even sold her last coat within her final days; she’s even been called Madame Mink. Bella was a firm believer in the diversification of income believing that one should, “prepare for war in the time of peace.”
Bella was the mother of four children, two sons, Gregory and Mark (who preceded her in death), and two daughters, Jill and Joy. She was a strict, no-nonsense yet, extremely loving and giving mother. These traits were useful and helpful to her extended family as Bella was the person her siblings entrusted their children to when they were in need of firm, but loving guidance. Which in turn, unofficially extended her immediate family with nephews George and Joseph and nieces Lorna and Debra.
In 1981, Bella courageously decided to live her life sober and joined Alcoholics Anonymous (AA), where she remained for the rest of her life. It was also in 1981, that she met Jessie Noble and the two of them fell in love almost immediately. Shortly thereafter, Bella was saved and baptized in Convent Ave Baptist Church, which is also where she wed her beloved Jessie. They married on April 23, 1988 and together, not only dedicated their lives to each other, but also to the fellowship of AA and its members. Jessie and Bella hosted an annual Christmas party where all were welcome; they wanted everyone to feel a bit of holiday cheer.
Bella lived quite a life, she traveled the world, was an avid bowler, raised her family and adored her grandchildren. She is survived her husband Jessie, son Gregory, 2 daughters: Jill and Joy, grandchildren Dominique, Elijah, Jalen, Jillian and Jayson, sisters Enid Hewson and Marion Hayes and her brother, Harold Washington, and a host of nieces and nephews.
Bella was an unforgettable force. She was respected, admired and loved by her family and friends. She touched the lives of everyone she met and will be greatly missed, but NEVER forgotten!