Marcella Loela (McGhee) Foster, a longtime resident of Lincoln, was born in St. Louis, Missouri, on March 4, 1927. Her parents were Edwin A. McGhee and Juanita (Augustus) McGhee. She died on December 5, 2018, at Lakeview Living in Firth, Nebraska.
When a class of first-graders at North American Martyrs School “adopted” her for Lent, she described an active childhood in St. Louis. “I played marbles. We climbed trees and rode bicycles. I did a lot of roller skating. I did a lot of swinging at the playground of my grade school,” she wrote to them.
She also performed in school plays and was a dancer. When she was 12 or 13 years old, she danced on the stage at theaters in downtown St. Louis, such as the Roosevelt Theater. She continued to be physically active into adulthood, and particularly enjoyed an aquatics class at the Downtown YWCA.
She moved to Milwaukee as a young woman, where she worked for 30 years as a practical nurse at Milwaukee County General Hospital. She enjoyed the work and her colleagues: “It was just like home,” she said.
She moved to Lincoln to be closer to her mother and her sister and worked at a variety of jobs, including 10 years in security at the Lincoln Airport.
Marcella was a sharp dresser with a keen eye for color. She was a lover of jazz and the blues who had an extensive record and CD collection. Like others in her family, she was a good cook and she always had a well-stocked cupboard and freezer. She liked to make little drawings of whimsical characters. She loved her dogs, and sorely missed the company of Peppy, a Shih Tzu, who could not accompany her when she moved into assisted living in summer 2017.
Marcella’s Catholic faith was important to her. She attended mass at St. Mary’s, and later, at North American Martyrs Catholic Church. The Martyrs parish was especially attentive to her in her later years.
Marcella was a member of the National Council of Negro Women. She attended breakfast get-togethers of her retired airport colleagues. She was a co-founder of a longstanding weekly luncheon group that included Lela and Hughes Shanks, Leola and Hugh Bullock and other civil rights advocates and friends.
Marcella’s brother, Edwin A. “Mickey” McGhee of Mesa, Arizona, survives her. She is also survived by nieces Stephanie McGhee of Mesa, Arizona, and Diane Ponder of Detroit; and by nephews Christopher McGhee of Mesa, Arizona, and Danny Tucker of Peru, Indiana. She was preceded in death by her parents and by her sister, Delores Tucker.
Mass at 2 p.m. Tuesday, December 18, 2018, North American Martyrs Catholic Church, 1101 Isaac Drive. Private graveside service at Wyuka Cemetery.