Community Voices

On her 100th birthday, retired Miami caterer says ‘God’s been so good to me’

Ernestine Richardson Bellamy five years ago, on her 95th birthday.
Ernestine Richardson Bellamy five years ago, on her 95th birthday. Photo provided to the Miami Herald

Ernestine Richardson Bellamy turns 100 years old on Saturday. But when you speak with her, you get the feeling that you are talking to a woman who is decades younger. “That’s because God’s been so good to me. That’s all I know,” she said recently.

She was born to Ernest Richardson and Maggie Cole on Dec. 4, 1916. Her mother died when she was 2, during a TB epidemic in her hometown of Boston, Georgia. A short time later, her father married Elnora. Eventually, Bellamy became the oldest of 11 siblings.

“Times were tough back then,” she said. “But I always imagined that God must have told my mother, ‘Don’t worry about this one; I will take care of her.’ And He has done just that.”

Shortly after her father remarried, Bellamy was sent to live with her grandparents, where she attended school and stayed until she got married at 17. The marriage was short-lived and Bellamy put her mind to completing high school — the 11th grade in the small town she grew up in. “But I was still the smartest chick in my class,” she said with a chuckle.

She moved to Miami when she was 22, and met the love of her life: Joseph Bellamy, who became the father of their seven children and her lifelong business partner. The Bellamys would have six sons and a daughter.

“He was a smart, hardworking man,” Bellamy said of her late husband. In the early 1970s, the couple started Family Affair Catering Service. “We were the first black-owned catering service in Miami,” she said proudly.

There is hardly a black person in Miami — and maybe even some whites — who hasn’t tasted and loved the food from the Family Affair Catering Service. The serviced weddings, birthday parties and even repasts after funerals. Sadly, though, Bellamy closed the business after her husband died in 1993. But she didn’t sit around twiddling her thumbs, with nothing to do.

Bellamy busied herself with traveling, caring for the sick in her neighborhood, working diligently as the oldest active member of Mount Tabor Missionary Baptist Church (which she joined in 1939), and being involved in such organizations as the YWCA; the YMCA; Family Christian Association; Community Action Agency; The National Council of Negro Women, Amicae of Zeta Phi Beta Sorority, and Church Women United, to name a few.

“I think staying active has kept me young,” she said. “I kept active in everything.”

Three of Bellamy’s sons, Donald, Roland and Torrell, are deceased. Her three surviving sons, Joseph Jr., Carlton, and Eldredge, live here. Daughter Joy Bellamy Lofton lives and works in Atlanta.

Now that she has reached this milestone birthday, what are her future plans? “Well, I’ve done a lot of traveling, so now that I am 100, I will put away my traveling shoes. I will take it a bit easier. I have lived a good life. I love people and I still love doing things for others.”

On Saturday, the day of her birthday, Bellamy will be honored at a celebration luncheon 11 a.m. at Miami Shores Country Club. There will be a few speeches, music and lots of good food.

On Sunday, following the 11 a.m. service at Mount Tabor, there will be a reception honoring her.

“I’m so thankful that I’m still in my good mind,” Bellamy said. “I don’t have any debilitating diseases — I’m just old. I thank God for that.”

‘Carols of the Bells’ concert Saturday

It’s beginning to sound a lot like Christmas with all the concerts and other activities of the season going on in our community.

At 7 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 3, The Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary Ukrainian Catholic Church at 38 NW 57th Ave., will present “Carols of the Bells” — a Ukrainian Choral Concert.

The event is free but donations will be accepted and will be used for the church’s building fund. Refreshments will be served following the concert. For more information, call 954-434-4635.

‘Bach to Bethlehem’ Christmas concert

The Miami Oratorio Society, directed by Andrew Anderson, will present “Bach to Bethlehem,” its annual Christmas concert at 5 p.m. Sunday, Dec. 4, at Holy Family Episcopal Church, 18501 NW Seventh St. in Miami Gardens.

The Oratorio Society will perform J.S. Bach’s Christmas Oratorio with excerpts from Handel’s “Messiah” and will feature soloists soprano Joanne Martinez, alto Lissette Jimenez, tenor Lievens Castillo and basses Daniel Snodgrass and Gibson Dorce.

Tickets are $20 each for adults and $10 each for youth ages 10-17. Log on to, www.miamioratorio.org for tickets or call Gloria Christian at 954-882-2242 or Judy Feldman at 305-610-0500.

Miami Messiah Choir

The Miami Messiah Choir will appear in concert 5 p.m. Sunday, Dec. 4, at Florida Memorial University, 15800 NW 42nd Ave. in Miami Gardens.

If you miss this one, the choir will perform 10 a.m. Dec. 10 at Miami Temple SDA Church, 9175 SW 44th St., and 4 p.m. Dec. 11 at The Church of the Incarnation, 1835 NW 54th St.

The choir, made up of singers from throughout Miami-Dade, is conducted by Dr. Nelson Hall. The Rev. James Bell and Brandon Mowery serve as assistant conductors.

If you go, the concerts are free, but donations will be accepted.

Booker T. Washington alumni Christmas party

The Booker T. Washington High School Alumni Association will celebrate “A 90th Year Christmas Party in Tornadoland” at 8 p.m. Friday, Dec. 2, in the Fellowship Hall of the Church of the Open Door, at 6001 NW Eighth Ave. in Liberty City.

The event is free to current BTW Alumni Association members and one guest. Tickets for nonmembers and each additional guest is $10 per person.

If you go, call Elestine Allen at 786-296-3818 or Lebbie Lee, 305-213-0188 for tickets, and bring an unwrapped gift for a child.

Reform Judaism president to speak

Temple Beth Shalom at 4144 Chase Ave. in Miami Beach, will host Rabbi Rick Jacobs to the pulpit on Friday, Dec. 2.

Jacobs is president of the Union for a Reform Judaism, an organization of nearly 900 congregations serving 1.5 million people. He will speak 6 p.m. at services, followed by a pot-luck dinner and discussion.

For more information call Mark Baranez at 305-538-7231, or email him at mark@tbsmb.org.

Send all items at least two weeks in advance to Religion Notes, c/o Neighbors, 3511 NW 91st Ave., Doral, FL 33172 or email bea.hines@gmail.com. Pictures are accepted but cannot be returned.

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