Earnestine Juanita Tomlin
12/30/1928 - 10/29/2021
Obituary For Earnestine Juanita Tomlin
Earnestine was born on December 30, 1928, in Bakersfield, CA, to parents Roosevelt and Gemelia Herring. Her mother, Germella, was one of the pioneers of Allensworth, CA; one of the few Black communities in the United States. Earnestine was the second of seven children – three brothers: Elwood Thomas, Ernest Leroy and Leonard Roosevelt; three sisters: Josephine Louise, Dorothy Ruth and Gemelia Annette.
She attended Allensworth Elementary School and was taught by an aunt. She graduated from Bakersfield High School and later took college classes to work at the hospital. Her desire was to become a nurse but life took her into a different direction.
She married William Tomlin and to this union were born two daughters: Sandra Burdine (Sandy) and Donna Neal (Rico). Earnestine was a kind, caring, loyal and loving mother who loved unconditionally and kept their best interests at heart. She was quiet and respectable with a mild temperament. Sandy survives and states, “She was my joy, my protector, and was who I got my work ethic from because she was a hard worker.”
While living in Lose Angeles she worked for Taffey Department Store which was an upper class store where she encountered and met many celebrities. The best part of the job were the discounts; she would buy beautiful dresses for us and herself which she wore to their parties, looking like a movie star.
A lover of antiques, vintage style, she was a passionate collector. She had her faithful dog “Bebe” who she taught to flush the toilet (smile). So many memories they shared; he was a very important part of her life.
She strived to enhance and educate her daughter’s throughout her life. Her children were exposed to many different social activities-they attended plays and musicals. They learned musical instruments-piano and flute. They took lessons for dancing, ballet, tap dancing and merged them into all different music genres: jazz, blues, gospel and country. She continuously strived to enhance her children’s cultural interests.
Earnestine was an excellent seamstress; she made all her children’s clothing. She enjoyed gardening and had an awesome green thumb in growing all types of vegetables. The gardening allowed her to do canning and preserves and she rarely needed to grocery shop. One of the family traditions between her, mother and sisters was creating blankets and quilting; sitting around the piano singing; enjoying laughing and spending quality time with loved ones. She was always willing to teach her children and others different life skills and to equip, prepare them for life experiences.
She enjoyed going to the park and watching people feed the birds while we ate lunch in the car playing country music, Sam Cook, Ray Charles. She also loved getting her hair and nails done. She always talked to everyone. She enjoyed shopping in Walmart while riding the scooter and I could hardly keep up with her. We’d go to lunch with people and Eulanda would fly up to visit, spending time with her. She loved receiving cards and flowers.
One day she was sitting in her wheel chair at the kitchen table. She said, “Hold my hands and smile at me, Sandy. Smile with Mommy.” My heart dropped as something inside wanted to reach out and hold on to her with all the love in my heart. Sometimes she asked me to fit in the bed with her to watch tv and I would laugh; I couldn’t fit in the twin bed, so we bought a recliner so I could be with her all night.
During her last season, my mother and I enjoyed our quiet time – reading, listening to music, talking and sharing stories. She was able to attend her sister’s 88th birthday event in Bakersfield, and was excited to see her. We stayed at the Marriott-it was a fun trip, enjoying each other’s company and room service. My friend Angela came with us and helped me with my mother. My mom was present to say goodbye to her sister as she transitioned later.
Mom was happy to share a bed with me, in her soft gentle voice she would say, “I love you, Sandy” and I replied, “I love you more! Good night, Mama.” I’d tell her “it’s an honor and blessing to take care of you, Mama. I love you more than the whole world. I’m blessed to have you for a mother. You did a wonderful job with us; be proud, Mama,” as I continuously kissed her, Mom would say “good morning” every day with a smile.
When she was admitted to the hospital, God made it possible for me to be by her side daily until I brought her home with Hospice. Many thanks to the Kaiser Hospice staff, devoted primary doctor, and the many caregivers.
I was truly blessed to serve and minister to my mom during her transition from her to her new life in Heaven. Rest in Peace, Mama.