On Monday, September 9, 2019, Hester Mae Gatling-Tyler was quietly and peacefully called to her Heavenly home. Hester was the eldest of four children born on November 26, 1931 to the late James Ernest and Ruth Etta Westmoreland in Portsmouth, Virginia. Hester Mae was educated in Portsmouth City Schools.
Hester Mae later moved to Brooklyn, New York where she was a member of Bethesda Baptist Church. Hester Mae’s love for traveling took her many places, most of the time with her children in tow. She was a kind hearted soul and would help anyone that she could. She was a driving force in the Black Panther’s Party Summer Lunch Program for inner city children where she fed all the children in the neighborhood. She was instrumental in closing down P.S 104 because of the fact that her daughter could not wear pants to school in the dead of winter. She constantly taught her children to stand up for themselves and for what they believed and she was actively involved in Civil Rights activities. Hester Mae loved going to Dover Downs Casino so that she could play those penny machines. She loved her family and often shared family talks about family members they had never seen, but felt so connected to them anyway. She described her family in such vivid details and made you see them in your heart and mind even before meeting them. She loved to sing and play the piano and entertained by having parties and having her family and friends gather and enjoy each other’s company.
After giving herself to the Lord, she felt exceptional joy and satisfaction. She joined Rehoboth Baptist Church and knew her journey was complete. She had always told her family that when she was called home to be with the Father, please do not sit around and cry because she had done all that she wanted to do in life and above all she did it her way. She told her family she wanted them to play that song by Old Blue eyes, Frank Sinatra called “My Way” and play it loud and proud.
Hester Mae was predeceased by her parents, her children; Ray Eric Tyler, Yv’onnie Maletha Gatling, Alvan Apolas Tyler, Wilfred Ellsworth Tyler, Jr., Lessie Mitchell; her aunt, Harriet Gates; and her sister, Alma Parker.
Hester Mae leaves to cherish her memories her children; James Tyrone Gatling (Stephanie) of Norfolk, Virginia, Vincent Lamont Gatling of Bronx, New York, Monalisa Maletha Dillard (Valencio) of Virginia Beach, VA, Jifferis William Tyler and Charles Leroy Gatling of Brooklyn, New York, Jeremy Jerod Gatling (Tamara) of Virginia Beach, VA, Barbara Chance (Gary) of Jamaica Queens, New York, Mary Griffin of Chesapeake, VA, Evonne Hart of Chesapeake, VA, Brenda Kornegay and William Gatling, Jr. of Portsmouth, VA, Theresa Nicholes (Elmer) and Barry Gatling, Sr. of Chesapeake, VA, Debra Hazel (Gilbert) of Long Island, New York, Julius Bernard and Vanessa Williams of Chesapeake, VA, Malcolm Gatling (Jeanetta) of Suffolk, VA, Charlie Mitchell of Long Island, NY, and an adopted son, Ray White of Norfolk, VA, two sisters, Lucille Sheppard (Calvin), of Durham, NC, Jacqueline Caton of Richmond, VA, and one brother, Harrell Westmoreland (Sandra) of Suffolk, VA, one uncle, Willie Wilson (Mildred) of Portsmouth, VA; forty-nine grandchildren, eighty-three great grandchildren, and nine great-great grandchildren. She was also blessed with many loving and caring friends and neighbors.