Mrs. Pearl, as she was affectionately called, was born Effie Pearl Mayes on September 21, 1938, to the late Errie Mayes, Sr., and Margie Cook (Mayes Smith) in Atlanta, GA. Pearl celebrated this birthday until she was informed by the government that her birthday was actually on September 22. Accepting this with her jovial spirit, she started celebrating both days. She was the oldest of 10 children and took this responsibility very seriously..
She attended Howard High School in Atlanta, GA. She married Robert Louis Fountain, Sr., at an early age and from that union came three children: Susie Ann, Robert “Ra Ra,” and Raymond “Little Squirk.” When her children were in their early teens, the family moved to New York City. This move allowed the family to experience new things and make lifelong friends. While living in New York City, the family lost Raymond. This affected her deeply.
She worked as a domestic engineer and had the privilege of working for several influential individuals and families. One of those individuals was jazz trumpeter, Wynton Marsalis, whom Pearl adopted as her godson. After living in New York for almost thirty years, she and Robert Louis returned to Atlanta in 1997, upon his retirement. She, however, did not retire. Upon her return, she started working for two amazing families, the Harts and the Striblings, until health concerns stopped her. She considered them family.
While living in New York City, she was an active member of First A.M.E Church: Bethel. Although she had plans to join “Big Bethel,” the Lord led her to Liberty International Church, where she was affectionately known as “Mother Pearl” or “Ma Pearl.” She collected angels and truly believed that God sent His angels to watch over, protect, and help us. It was at Liberty where she created her Angel Team, which was birthed from her desire to help her “godsister,” Minister Robinson, after the death of her husband, Brother Eddie. Her team was always prepared to help when Liberty needed. She loved her Bishop and her Church Family, and most importantly, she loved God.
Mrs. Pearl was the embodiment of the scripture: “Your gift will make room for you and bring you before great men,” Proverbs 18:16. She literally was a giver of gifts. Her gifts, though often simple, were personalized to the recipient and most times held deeper meaning. She also used her God-given talent for detail to transform ordinary places into beautiful spaces.
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