On Friday, September 11th, 2020, Annie (Helen) Watkins of Pylesville, loving sister, mother, grandmother, great-grandmother, great-great grandmother, aunt and friend to many, passed away at the age of 103 in the Maryland Masonic Home.
Helen was born on August 1, 1917 in Dinwiddie County, VA. She was the fourth of eight children, and spent her childhood on her family’s farm. She was married in 1937 at the age of 19 to Herman Dalton, and between the years of 1938 and 1955 they had four children.
In 1960, she became a single mother following the death of her husband and worked hard to continue to provide for her family in his absence by working in a factory sewing buttons on pants. In 1967, she was married to Bill Watkins and moved to Maryland with her youngest daughter, Debbie. In 1975, after less than ten years of marriage, Bill passed away; Helen lived the next 37 years by herself. She was the toughest lady around. She survived the pandemic of 1918, double knee replacements at the age of 84, a stroke at the age of 96 and covid-19 earlier this year.
She is preceded in death by her two husbands:Herman Dalton and Bill Watkins; six siblings: Bernard Byrd, Hazel Minetree, Hallie Martin, Dorothy Martin, Ray Byrd, Raleigh Byrd and her daughter in law, Ginna Dalton.
She is survived by her sister, Barbara Williams; her four children: Jimmy Dalton and wife, Opal, Ann Matthews and husband, Leroy, Sam Dalton, Debbie Hess and husband, Steve; her nine grandchildren: Sandra Dalton Wright, Dickie Dalton, Janet Eley, David Matthews, Carol Caldwell, Micah Dalton, Erin Newton, Jason Hess and Allison Hess-Golliday; her 17 great grandchildren: Carly Bullock, Taylor Eley, Jessica Harris, Jake Matthews, Jesse Caldwell, Katie Caldwell, Amy Schexnayder, Wesley Hopkins, Abby Tredway, Claire Kindley, Aghavni Dalton, Madeleine Newton, Moira Newton, Miriam Newton, Hanna Hess, Hudson Hess and Eva Golliday; her three great-great grandchildren: Carter Bullock, Kaylee Bullock and Jazz Bullock.
She had a passion for gardening, sewing and cooking. Her legacy lives on in her cooking and her quilting. In her lifetime, she made approximately 5,000 biscuits, 100 carrot cakes, and no less than 200 pans of baked apples. She pieced and quilted hundreds of quilts, providing at least one to every child, grandchild, and many great grandchildren. She taught many of her children and grandchildren to sew and to cook. She was also a beloved, long time member of the Highland Presbyterian Church where she served as deacon and was active in the Women's Association. Her faith was first and foremost in her life.
She had many names: Annie, Helen, Turkey (Lord, how she hated that name!), Mama, Mom, Aunt Helen and Grandma. In 1983, she shifted from Grandma to Mema, a name that became a huge part of her identity. She was Mema to all the grandchildren that came after that and all the friends of the grandchildren. Everyone knew Mema. It was not simply what her grandchildren called her, it was an entity, a force all its own. There will never be another Mema.
She will be deeply missed by those who loved her, including staff and friends at the Maryland Masonic Home and staff from Gilchrist Hospice. She was beloved by all there. Services will be private; however, a memorial service will be planned sometime next year to celebrate her life. Harkins Funeral Home in Delta, PA is handling the arrangements. Contributions may be made to Highland Presbyterian Church, 701 Highland Road, Street, MD 21154 or to the Maryland Masonic Home, 300 International Circle, Cockeysville, MD 21030.