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1934 Louisa Olajumoke Oyelese 2023

Louisa Olajumoke Oyelese

April 7, 1934 — February 22, 2023

 

Please click here to view the Zoom video for the Services of Ms. Louisa Oyelese. The Zoom will begin on Thursday, March 23, 2023 at 7:00pm for the Service of Songs and Friday, March 24, 2023 at 10:00am for the Funeral Service.

 

The Meeting ID is 410 340 9952.

The Password is 509881.

 

Louisa Olajumoke Oyelese was born in Lagos, Nigeria on Saturday, April 7, 1934 to Mr. & Mrs. I.B Akinkunmi, of blessed memory. She rested in the Lord February 22, 2023, at the age of 88. We are witnesses here to her journey during which she impacted many lives, great and small with the shining example of her faith, her compassion for her fellowmen and her love for her family.  She would be defined by the virtues she held dear – faith, character, love and education.  However, to truly understand her life, it is important to understand where and how she acquired these values.  It is important to understand her roots.

 

Parentage:

Louisa Olajumoke was born on Saturday, April 7, 1934, in Lagos, Nigeria to Isaac Bolade Akinkunmi and Paulina Modupeore Akinkunmi a day that incidentally was her father’s birthday.

Her paternal grandfather John Makinde Akinkunmi from the royal house of Akinale, Abeokuta was formally educated in Lagos and later became an accounts clerk for the European Nigerian Railway Company.  Her paternal grandmother did not have formal education but worked as a trader and merchant.

 

Her maternal great-grandfather hailed from Ogotun in modern day Ekiti State and was taken to Brazil during the slave trade era.  He returned to Nigeria as a highly successful merchant with a 3-month-old son and settled in Bamgbose the Brazilian Quarter in Lagos.  Their family house with its notable Brazilian architecture was named “Viva Deus”.  The 3-month-old son, Joseph Metimo Francis (Louisa’s grandfather) grew up to become a teacher and a very devout Catholic.  Her maternal grandmother hailed from the Royal House in Oyo and was a student when she and Joseph Metimo Francis fell in love.  However, her parents were opposed to their relationship and quickly married her off to a Chief with whom she had a daughter, but her husband died shortly thereafter.  Metimo also went on to marry and had a daughter, but his wife also passed away early.  They somehow found each other more than a decade later and renewed their relationship, eventually marrying and having four children of whom Paulina Modupeore (Louisa’s mother) was the eldest.

 

Isaac Bolade Akinkunmi (Louisa’s father) was educated at Methodist Boys and St. Gregory’s schools in Lagos and joined the police force as a clerk eventually becoming one of the first Nigerian officers rising to the rank of Inspector and eventually became Assistant Commissioner for Police, Lagos State in the 1960’s.  Paulina Modupeore began her primary education at St. Mary’s Catholic School in Lagos, but her education was prematurely terminated upon the passing of her mother while she was 13.  It fell upon her to help care for her younger siblings. She and Isaac met, got married and were blessed with the arrival of a baby girl, Louisa, on April 7, 1934.

 

Early Life and Education:

Louisa’s Mother Paulina was a seasoned homemaker, an industrious and hardworking woman around whose home and fabulous cooking many social circles intersected.  As was the general practice of the day, Louisa’s early living environment involved communal living with extended family and sometimes friends.  Here, resources such as food, living space and functions such as childcare were shared.  Louisa was an only child for over 11 years and grew up longing and aching for the gift of a sibling. Twin boys were born to her mother a few years later but died 3 days after birth. She had many older relatives who doted on her as an only child to her parents, but God eventually answered her prayer with the arrival of two sisters and a brother, Oluwatunda, Akintola and Abimbola. She loved and cherished her younger siblings and practically raised them like her own children.

 

Her family shared living space with the family of Mr. and Mrs. M.J. Johnson (the parents of Femi Johnson and the future Lagos State Governor, Mobolaji Johnson) and their three sons Tunde, Femi and Mobolaji.  She became an adopted daughter and sister to them and would move in with them briefly when they built their own house. Sundays in the Johnson household were a special time with Sunday school lessons in the morning and music in the evenings. Louisa’s grandfather Metimo Francis and her father Isaac would bring out their accordions and play various Christian songs to the children’s delight.

 

Louisa’s primary education was at Baptist Academy and Princess Schools in Lagos from January 1941 to December 1948 after which she gained admission to Methodist Girls High School and  St. Agnes’ Teacher Training College, Lagos.  She opted to attend the latter (from 1949 to 1952) because of her dream of becoming a teacher and eventually a school principal.  

 

Thus, faith, education and community were early themes in the family that Louisa was born into in 1934 and in her early years. These themes formed an important part of the foundation upon which her life was built while her maternal grandparents’ story also made her a romantic.

 

Later Education:

Louisa received a scholarship to study abroad first at the Kumasi College of Science and Technology, Ghana in 1957 and later as a Federal Government Scholar at Bath College of Domestic Science in Britain in 1958.  It was while a student in Bath that she was privileged to meet The Queen Mother Elizabeth who was standing in for her daughter Queen Elizabeth II at an opening ceremony and International Food and Cooking Festival at her school.  The Queen Mother was so impressed with her traditional African outfit and food display that she was invited to tea with her. This moment was preserved in history in a picture taken with the Queen Mother that was published in the local newspaper. She completed her education in the UK and obtained her Certificate in Education from the University of Bristol. She would eventually complete her education earning her BA from San Francisco State University in California, USA in 1968

 

Courtship, Marriage, and Motherhood:

Louisa met John Oyedokun Oyelese around 1957 while teaching in Ibadan and applying for her scholarship for higher education abroad.  They began a platonic friendship in which he attempted to share with her his passion for literary works on history, religion and such while also advising her on her academic pursuits.  The relationship then evolved into romance when they met again by chance as she was getting onto a subway in London.  They wed on December 7, 1961, and moved to Ibadan. Her husband had two young sons Akin and Ade prior to their marrying for whom she became stepmother but cared for dearly like her own. The couple was later blessed with five children – Yinka in 1962, Femi in 1963.  In 1964, the family relocated to Berkely California, USA where Oyedokun pursued his PhD degree and Louisa her BA. They were blessed with another son Tokunbo in 1965.  After return to Nigeria in 1970, they were blessed with 2 girls - Yemisi in 1971 and Bimpe in 1973. 

 

The Educator:

Louisa’s first teaching assignment as a Grade II Teacher was at St. Cyprian’s Catholic School in Oke-Offa, Ibadan from January 1953 to December 1957 where she applied the principles she had learned earlier in life and not only was a source of inspiration for many young girls but was able to encourage many parents to educate their daughters contrary to the common wisdom and practice of the times.  She taught briefly in the UK as part of her training and upon moving to Ibadan after marrying, she took a teaching position at St. Annes’ School in Ibadan. She took a hiatus from teaching during the family’s tenure in the US where she pursued her BA and worked as a Therapeutic Assistant Dietician at French Hospital San Francisco and Kaiser Permanente Hospital to help support the family. She would return to her first love of teaching at Ibadan Grammar School in 1970 and the Local Academy Teacher Training College in Ibadan for several years before becoming a vice-principal at Anglican Grammar School, Orita Mefa, Ibadan in 1977.  During this period, she served as the president of the Home Economics Teacher’s Association of Oyo State, championing the cause of the Association before important dignitaries like the Late Chief Obafemi Awolowo, Papa Alayande and the Olubadan of Ibadan.  She would fulfil her lifelong dream of becoming the pioneering high school principal of the Emmanuel College High School, Bodija Ibadan under the free education expansion program in Oyo State pioneered by then Governor Bola Ige.  The school would go on to become a model for education and the crown jewel of Bola Ige’s educational program, earning her his respect as he showcased her success as an outstanding Principal.  She would be rewarded for this success when she fortuitously encountered Governor Ige leading the entourage of Pope John Paul II during his visit to Ibadan. He personally introduced her to the Pope, who blessed her, allowed her to kiss his ring and invited her to join his entourage – This was one of the true highlights of her life as a devout Catholic. In 1989, she was posted to Mount Olivet Grammar School, Bodija Ibadan from which she retired from the teaching service on April 16,1989 after serving for 35 years in the field of Education.

 

Trials, Tribulations, Faith and Overcoming:

Louisa’s life was not always one of ease and comfort. In 1984, Louisa lost her junior uncle, Mr. Sunday Akinkunmi with whom she was extremely close. She lost her beloved husband, Professor John Oyedokun Oyelese on January 16, 1987. Over the ensuing 4 years, she lost her father Isaac Bolade Akinkunmi (1989), Mother Paulina Modupe Akinkunmi (1990) and her immediate younger sister Tunda Ogunbiyi (1991).  These turned out to be very dark days for her emotionally and financially at a time of a collapsing economy in Nigeria.  But out of the ashes of her despair, like a Phoenix rising out of the ashes, her faith was strengthened and raised her up to a new life of commitment to bettering the lives of her children, her extended family, church, and community.  She became a beacon of encouragement and strength for many others.

 

Renewal:

All throughout her life, Louisa had a foundation of faith, friendship and family and these would buoy her during her darkest hours.  She leaned heavily into her faith and her dedication to God becoming an integral part of her home church – Church of the Ascension in Bodija, Ibadan.  In addition to her lifelong friends like Mrs. Foluke Ogunnaike, she here formed new friendships and developed a new sisterhood and bosom friendship with the late Mrs. Afolabi Denton and with Mrs. Grace Conde who she fondly called her “Kehinde Mi” and her “Idowu” with her being the “Taiwo”.  She was one of the Matrons of the Catholic Women’s Association, The Holy Rosary Society and the Christian Mother’s Society.  She also served as President of St. Anthony’s Guild and a member of the Parish Council.  In 1996, she was appointed a member of the Presidential Task force for the Christian Pilgrimage to the State of Israel.

 

Louisa took up golfing with a passion and was an avid member of the Ibadan Golf Club where she was very active and served as a Handicap Officer.  During her last decade in the US, she became an active member of St. Matthias Catholic Church leaving an indelible mark on the hearts and minds of everyone she interacted with in church.

 

She remained very close to her surviving siblings Mr. Akintola Akinkunmi and Mrs. Abimbola Latinwo (nee Akinkunmi), numerous cousins and relatives with whom she never lost touch.  She became a surrogate mother to many, and in her Obe Street neighborhood unfailingly hosted an Annual Christmas party for the neighborhood children, complete with a Father Christmas in costume.  She remained extremely close with her children and devoted to her grandchildren.  Her relationship with her children evolved from parent in their dependent state to friend, advisor, and prayer warrior in their independent state.  Through these, she found a renewed joy and purpose in life – faith in God and in service to and in community with others!

 

As a result of her compassion, hard work, community service and dedication to education she was conferred with several honorary Chieftaincy titles including:

 

The Osi Iyalaje of Arulogun, Ibadan conferred by the Baale of Arulogun in 1991,

 

The Osi Balogun Iya Ewe of Ibadan conferred by the Olubadan of Ibadan in 1994 and recently,

The Yeye Oba Owu Akinale was conferred by her cousin, Kabiyesi Oba Ogunleye of Towulade Owu, Abeokuta in 2021.

 

In her final years, though weakened by illness, she never lost her effervescent smile and her desire to be with others either on social media or at social functions where she could enjoy African music and dance.  She remained humble always, never deeming herself too proud to associate with others no matter how lowly their state in life.  She touched the lives of countless people around her in one way or another. Though a disciplinarian, she cherished the company of the little ones and always made sure that they had fun.  She always kept them engaged with interesting stories, songs and moral lessons that have guided us all through our lives.  She was an unwavering Christian mother, a woman of great faith, who served God with all her might. Above all, her faith in God never weakened or waned but rather waxed stronger till the very end.  It is this legacy that she leaves to posterity, to her beloved children and grandchildren, siblings, numerous nephews, nieces, cousins, relatives, and friends who survive her.  She has fought the good fight and finished her race fearlessly and with distinction.  And now, awaiting her is a crown of glory on the Resurrection Day, in Jesus Christ Our Lord!

 

We love you so much Mom and we miss you dearly.  You will forever remain Queen of our hearts.

To order memorial trees or send flowers to the family in memory of Louisa Olajumoke Oyelese, please visit our flower store.

Service Schedule

Past Services

Visitation

Friday, March 24, 2023

10:00 - 11:00 am (Eastern time)

Saint Matthias Catholic Church

9475 Annapolis Rd, Lanham, MD 20706

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Funeral Service

Friday, March 24, 2023

Starts at 11:00 am (Eastern time)

Saint Matthias Catholic Church

9475 Annapolis Rd, Lanham, MD 20706

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Interment

Friday, March 24, 2023

Starts at 2:00 pm (Eastern time)

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