In Memoriam: Lula Mae Friar


“I Pray We All Be Ready” was among many gospel favorites often sang by Holmes County, Mississippi native and spirit-filled songbird Lula Friar. This talented servant of God was born to Odessa and Abbie Wright Friar (both deceased) December 31, 1951 in the Busy Bee Community of Lexington, Miss. She was the fourth of 10 children; two of whom – Dessa Ree Friar Gibson and Marion Henry Friar (aka) “Melvin” – preceded her in death.
On Sunday, July 12, 2020, in the University of Mississippi Medical Center (UMMC) after fighting the good fight of faith, Friar was summoned home by her Heavenly Father to sweet rest.
Being ready was her principle in life because she believed in “Sending Up [her] Timber Everyday.” She sent up her timber to God with her praise, worship, generous giving, daily study of the Holy Bible each day before work, and with her agape love for her family, community – especially young people. When the “Storms of Life [Were] Raging,” she didn’t really worry because she would sing, “I want you to know that God is keeping me. Oh yes, God is keeping me.” Reflecting over her life, she found comfort in knowing that “Everything that happened to [her] that was good, God did it; Oh yes He did it.”
Friar received her early childhood and teenage foundation and nurturing from her loving and Christian parents. She served Lebanon Missionary Baptist Church of Lexington, Miss. in several capacities: vice president of the Lebanon Inspirational Choir (LIC), president of LIC, youth coordinator, and a trustee on the Board of Trustees.
Educationally, she attended both Mt. Olive Vocational School and Ambrose School of Lexington. She was a proud 1969 high school graduate of the formerly-named Lexington Attendance Center, home of the Purple and Gold “mighty” Mustangs, and where she served as a majorette in the band. She received a choir scholarship to attend Rust College in Holy Springs, Mississippi, where she graduated summa cum laude with a B.S. in elementary education in 1974. She also sang in the Rust College Choir.
Her teaching career began in 1975 at Sharkey County Elementary School in Anguilla, Miss., where she served until 1978. She would later serve as a second grade teacher at Goodman-Pickens Elementary School in Pickens, Miss. GPE is what she would always affectionately call it. She served as chairperson for the Teacher Support Team, the 504 coordinator, worked closely with the PTSA, remediated students in After School Tutorial for State Subject Area Testing Program, and much more.
During her tenure with the Holmes County Public School District, now Holmes County Consolidated School District, Friar led her students at Goodman Pickens Elementary in winning 1st Place Reading Awards. She herself earned the district’s 2004 Teacher of the Year Award.
During and after her tenure with the district, Friar devoted her love and passion as a volunteer coordinator and mentor for the then-JJ McClain High School Band Twirlers Squad and remained through to the current HCCHS Band Majorettes – “The Prancing Jags” – until her departure. As an Auxiliary sponsor, she was dedicated to making sure that her girls looked good and performed magnificently. She is considered by the band and its director Stephan Mathis as their “Band Mother.” One of her greatest enjoyments in life was traveling in and out of state with those young people. As an active band booster club member, she was so proud of the multiple award-winning “Marching Jags.”
Friar devoted 34 years as a Mississippi educator before she retired (31 of those years were in Holmes County).
However, she later served in an education capacity in the After-School Tutorial Program for the Community Students Learning Center (CSLC), a local 501 (c) 3 non-profit organization of Lexington, Mississippi. She always kept her teaching license renewed whether she was teaching or not.
During her CSLC tenure, she coordinated and helped the center and Holmes County to become Mississippi’s first and only Home Instruction for Parents of Preschool Youngsters (HIPPY) program site. HIPPY is an international evidence-based home visiting program that supports parents in their critical role as their child’s first and most important teacher. The CSLC MS PIRC HIPPY program was Friar’s passion. Since 2010, she put her heart and soul into the program. One of her proudest moments was learning that all of her little 2011 HIPPY graduates passed their State-mandated reading assessment test in 2015. The program is an effective model for student success.
At CSLC, she has also served as the housing coordinator, housing counselor, fair housing advocate and the education coordinator for the Health Optimization and Prevention Education (HOPE) program for youth.
Friar’s love for her children, grandchildren, family and colleagues was remarkable. Although she spoke her mind, she would let you know that she meant well by prefacing her constructive criticism with, “I don’t mean any harm…” And, people loved her for her candidness. She always stood up for what she believed.
She enjoyed the many trips the Friar family took together, spending time of laughter during family reunions, barbeques, outings and just sitting around talking.
Lula Friar leaves to cherish her loving memories one daughter: LaTannica Friar of Denham Springs, La. and one son: Fredrick Friar of Lexington, Miss.; one god daughter: Aaliyah Antoinette Greer of Lexington, Miss.; five granddaughters: Lakeithia Friar of Jackson, Miss.; Zarai Hammond of Lexington, Miss.; Kayden Symone Collier and Kaylee Grace Hodges both of Denham Springs, La.; and Cameryn Morris of the Mt. Olive community; two brothers: Lesley Friar and Jessie Earl Friar; five sisters: Janie Friar, Lou Ethel Friar, Beulah Greer, Jeanette Friar all of Lexington, Miss., and Rebecca Friar of Brookhaven, Miss.; one brother-in-law: Leslie Greer, and two sisters-in-law: Geraldine Friar and Brenda Friar all of Lexington, Miss; one uncle and four aunts; and a host of nieces, nephews, cousins, friends and all the children whom she mentored who loved her dearly.
Her favorite scriptures were: For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life. John 3:16 and Trust in the Lord with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding. In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths. Proverbs 3: 5-6

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