MOURNING: Rustie Lee arriving for her mother's funeral
IT WAS the day the famous laugh of TV star Rustie Lee remained silent as she greeted hundreds of mourners who came to pay their last respects at her elderly mum’s funeral.
Her beloved mum Eugenie Edwards died peacefully in her sleep on December 15, aged 87, almost two months after doctors had advised she should be put on a controversial ‘pathway’ plan for end-of-life patients.
Medics at City Hospital in Birmingham had predicted business pioneer Mrs Edwards had less than 48 hours to live at the end of October.
But after daughter Rustie rejected the treatment plan her mother lived a further six weeks, giving the famous TV chef precious time with the mum she called ‘an earthly angel.’
During her packed funeral service at Cannon Street Memorial Baptist Church in Soho Road, Handsworth, mourners heard how Mrs Edwards was ‘one lovely lady’ who set up one of the first Caribbean takeaways in the UK.
A solemn, but composed Rustie was accompanied by her husband Andreas and only son James.
Aloun Ndombet Assamba, the High Commissioner for Jamaica, sent her personal condolences from the Jamaican High Commission in London.
Paying tribute, Ms Assamba said Mrs Edwards was ‘a pioneer of her time’ who became a successful and philanthropic businesswoman, so much so that the community protected her takeaway shop during the Handsworth riots in the 1980s.
In a eulogy, read out by close family friend Dorothy Ottey, the congregation heard how Mrs Edwards, the eldest of eight children, left her home in Cane Wood Road District, Portland, Jamaica, to help rebuild the war-ravaged Britain of the 1950s with her husband Archie.
And Rustie vividly recalled herself and her late sister Dawnie being reunited with their parents when they too arrived in the UK.
Pastor Maxine Brooks told how Mrs Edwards gave her her first job 25 years ago at her Spring Hill restaurant. She said: “Mrs Edwards was a beautiful lady, who made wonderful food, often giving it away to those on hard times.”
Pastor Bryan Scott, who conducted the service, followed by burial at Witton Cemetery, said Mrs Edwards had a strong faith in God.
He said: “We used to sing hymns together when I visited her at her nursing home and she came alive when we were singing. It was clear she had made her peace with God. She had the kind of relationship with Him that can weather any storm in this life.”
A collection made during the funeral service was donated to support the education and health of 900 youngsters who attend the Brain House Academy in Nairobi.
HAPPIER TIMES: Rustie Lee with her mum Eugenie Edwards, photo BPM Media