Josella Abrams

March 14, 1936 ~ April 24, 2022 (age 86)


Josella Thomas Abrams was born March 14, 1936, in Hawkinsville, GA as one of 6 children to the late Jack and Rena Mae Thomas. As an advanced student, Josella skipped a grade and graduated high school early as the valedictorian in 1953. Accepted to Spelman College as a young freshman, she already had made her family, friends, and hometown proud, where they collectively raised money for her tuition. Upon graduating from Spelman College in 1957 with a BA Degree in English, Josella returned to Hawkinsville to become a public high school teacher. There, she paid it forward where she displayed her fondness of reading and her natural ability to lead others, teaching hundreds of African American students, including her youngest brother Lawrence, and numerous nieces, nephews, and friends. Josella’s legacy of supporting education lives on at Spelman College as the Josella Thomas Abrams Travel Abroad Scholarship Fund was endowed in 2015.


Josella spent weekends going to dances and socializing with friends. While attending a football game in Fort Valley, Georgia, a mutual friend introduced Josella to Lawrence Abrams of Thomasville, Georgia. She was immediately swept off her feet! The couple later wed on December 28, 1958, and went on to spend over 49 years of marriage together.


While their careers flourished as teachers, Josella and Lawrence moved to Ocilla, Georgia where they built their first home. Soon after their arrival, they welcomed their first son, Lawrence Jr, in 1961, and their beautiful daughter Andrea in 1963. Lawrence accepted a position as Executive Director of the Community Action Agency in Coco Beach, FL, and shortly after their arrival, the young couple welcomed their third child, Martin, in 1969. Josella continued to teach English in Cape Canaveral, Florida before the family relocated to Yellow Springs, OH in 1969.


Upon arrival there, the devoted mother and educator began substitute teaching in the public school system of Yellow Springs. Soon after, she gained full time employment with the Springfield Public School system as an English / Reading High School teacher. During her career at Springfield South High School, she stressed the importance of African American Children being prepared for post high school opportunities. Josella organized special clubs, school trips, talent shows and encouraged parent involvement, all designed to enhance the student’s high school experience and future career advancements.


Through faith and supplication, the family found their new church home within a two-block walking distance, Central Chapel A.M.E. Church. For 50 years, Josella was a proud and faithful member of Central Chapel. There, Josella served in numerous positions as a member of the Senior Choir, Sunday School and Steward Board member, and various other ministries. Josella loved her solo performances of “Great is Thy Faithfulness,” where her soprano voice filled the halls of the chapel. Another of her greatest loves was the church Lay organization. Josella proudly served as the Central Chapel AME Lay President, and later became the President of the entire Ohio Lay Organization, where she served for eight consecutive years. She truly served her community. Furthermore, while serving as the Ohio Lay President from 2000-2008, she received numerous awards for all levels of church leadership, where she strived to uplift the community and promote the teachings of the Lord and service throughout the world.


After 35 years of teaching excellence, Josella retired from the Springfield City School System. She and Lawrence began enjoying retirement life, which included cruising, traveling, entrepreneurship, and the joy of seven wonderful grandchildren.


Josella was affectionately called, "GJ", "JoJo", and "Grandma Jo", by her grandchildren. They will remember cherished moments during summers in Ohio at the Glen, Young’s Dairy, and trips to “Big Meeting” down south. As she aged, Josella split her time between her children’s homes in Alabama and Minnesota, where she could “grandparent” and be a cheerleader at numerous football games, volleyball games, cheerleading competitions, tennis, soccer matches, and swim meets.


Josella was a strong woman who loved the Lord, her family, and friends. On April 24, 2022, she reunited with her beloved husband Lawrence in peace and rest. She leaves behind to cherish her memories her son, Lawrence Abrams, Jr. (Jackie) of Huntsville, AL; daughter, Andrea Abrams Turner (Stuart) of Edina, MN; and son, Martin Abrams (Amanda) of Minneapolis, MN; and seven grandchildren, Lawrence (“LJ”) Abrams III, Ariel Abrams, Payton Turner, Lauren Turner, Samuel Abrams, Sophia Abrams, and Allegra Abrams, as well as brother, Lawrence Thomas (Faye) of Antioch, CA; aunt, Arie McCarthy Morehead of Hawkinsville, GA; cousin, (like a brother) James Wesley (Ollie) of Ann Arbor, MI and a host of nieces, nephews, cousins, friends, and caregivers. 

To send flowers to the family or plant a tree in memory of Josella, please visit our floral store.


May 7, 2022

12:00 PM to 1:00 PM
Central Chapel A.M.E Church (Yellow Springs, Ohio)

Funeral Service
May 7, 2022

1:00 PM
Central Chapel A.M.E Church (Yellow Springs, Ohio)

May 7, 2022

2:30 PM
Glen Forest Cemetery, Yellow Springs, Ohio

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