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Essie B. Matthews


Sunrise: July 4, 1948

Sunset: July 12, 2021

Essie Bowe Matthews was the seventh child and third daughter of Willie Cornelius and Izora Ward Bowe, born July 4, 1948 in Portsmouth, Virginia.  She shared the first name of her father’s mother, Essie May Doxy Bowe, as they also shared a striking resemblance.  Her father always wanted twelve children, God gave him the desires of this heart.  Essie leaves to cherish fond memories: Willie (Jean) Bowe of Mt. Vernon, New York; Leonard  Bowe of Portsmouth, Va;  Cornelius (Johnniel) of Glen Carbon, Illinois; Iris Harding of Portsmouth, VA; Cynthia Smith (Frank) of  District Heights, MD; Apostle  Joyce Tasby (Arthur) of Windsor, North Carolina; Jacqueline Seymore and Carrlette Parker of Portsmouth, Va.  Parents Willie and Izora, brothers Charles Herbert, Raymond and James Bowe  preceded her in death.

Children of the Bowe family were taught the Word of God from their parents, Sunday School, and church, and as a result they were talented in many areas.  Music Art and Carpentry were a few among many.  Their father bought the family a piano, where many adventures in music began.  The children who were interested took lessons, and Essie’s musical journey began here.

The Bowe Family recognized that no matter their talents, their help “cometh from the Lord, maker of heaven and earth.”  It was simply a natural fit that Essie would  become  a Teacher, Choir Director and Minister of Music.

While the United States was celebrating its independence  from the monarch of Britain with star spangle banners, Essie was making her arriving July 4, 1948.  Fireworks could be heard from a distance, as the cries of Essie taking her first breaths were beginning.

Essie’s musical journey began in her native home of Portsmouth, VA, where she began early piano lessons and continued with other instruments throughout the Portsmouth Public City Schools.  While refining the sounds Voice and Piano, she went where many girls didn’t go, taking on the Bassoon at her band teacher’s suggestion at I.C. Norcom High School, Class of ‘66.  She played in concert and marching band.  Having met the Bassoon with dedication to play it superbly, she proved that she could add another sound to her repertoire of instruments.  This commitment paid off, and won her a scholarship to Norfolk State University, where she later earned a Bachelor of Arts Degree in Public School Music Education in 1971.

Deciding to move  to the Washington, DC area, Essie  first worked at the Dawn to Dusk Nursery.  Later she taught in the Fairfax County Public Schools as a Music Teacher, Fort Belvoir ES, Hybla Valley ES, and Whitman MS retiring in 2002.  She taught students a  variety of sounds within music instruments, as well as their own voice.  Her choruses won many competitions, as she always gave them a humorous directive:  “Don’t give me 100%, give me 110%.”  Even today, students still speak of Essie  as they continue to appreciate their encounter with music far beyond the notes, for they remember the caring way she taught it to them.  Also, during this time, Essie  furthered her studies in music, as she did graduate work at the University of the District of Columbia and the University of Maryland.

In addition to her school career, Essie  directed, accompanied, and  served as Minister of Music for churches in the Washington Metropolitan Area.  She was involved in planning and performing seasonal programs for schools, churches and civic organizations.  She once stated,” As the choirs lift their voices, bringing their spiritual energy by song, their dedication inspires my willingness to serve.”

Essie served as accompanist to the Chancellor Choir for Sargent Memorial Presbyterian Church in Washington, DC and to the Choral of St. Joseph Catholic Church.  She was in charge of the men’s choir at Oakland Baptist Church in Alexandria, VA.  Additionally, she played for Metrotone Baptist Church in Washington DC and Spottswood A.M.E. Zion Church, Greater Landover, MD to name a few.

Always willing to share her talents, she taught private piano lessons to students.  In 2007, she started Music in Variations, branching out from piano lessons to other instruments, where students look forward to their recitals she would host.

With a full life and fashion always on her mind, she started an accessories business and would feature, “Accessories by the Pool” where friends and family could shop.  This was always a hit, as people always loved her fashion sense.  Keeping beauty, fun and fashion on the horizon, she modeled with Thrift Sophisticates Modeling Group.

Still having more to give, Essie was a member of the Alpha Kappa Alpha, Inc. Zeta Chi Omega Chapter, where she was a Golden Soror, actively giving back to her community.

Essie was currently a member of Mt. Sinai Baptist Church in Washington, DC, making musical contribution to the Women’s Choir.

      Essie B. Matthews – A life of talent, warmth, and giving.

Wake Service Tuesday, July 27, 2021 4:00pm - 6:00pm Metropolitan Funeral Service 5605 Portsmouth Boulevard Portsmouth, VA 23701 Service WATCH SERVICE LIVE ONLINE ON METROPOLITAN FUNERAL SERVICE FACEBOOK PAGE Wednesday, July 28, 2021 11:00am Fourth Baptist Church 726 South Street Portsmouth, VA 23704 Interment Greenlawn Memorial Gardens 3920 Airline Boulevard Portsmouth, VA 23701 *Masks Required*

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Condolences(29)

  1. reply
    madeline harris reynolds says

    praying for the family and the sisters of ESSIE who will miss her dearly

  2. reply
    Carolyn Y. Johnson-Jones says

    So Sorry to hear of the passing of Essie. Prayers for her family.

    • reply
      Barbara McCoy says

      My condolences to the Methews family. May God give you strength and comfort🙏🏾❤

  3. reply
    Beverly Gardner Alberts says

    Condolences to the family of. Essie B. Matthews. Her smile will be missed at the I C Norcom. Class of 1966.Reunions. Rest In Peace classmate.

  4. reply
    Tonette Choate-Wilder says

    My condolences and prayers are with you and your family. I cherish the childhood memories on Summit Ave with the Bowe family
    May God’s love and peace comfort you during this time of transition.

    • reply
      Gwendolyn Leach says

      Prayers of comfort for the family of Essie (Bowe) Matthews. It was a blessing to have grown up in Brighton on Summit Ave with Essie and the Bowe Family.

  5. reply
    George Easter says

    Our condolences to the family during this difficult time. Be strong and lean on the comfort of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. 🙏🏽 George & Pamela Easter

  6. reply
    William Francis Wingate says

    Prayers and condolences to Essie family. We all grew up on the 1400 block of Summit Ave.

  7. reply
    Gloria Leathers says

    To The Bowe Family—Words can’t express how saddened I am to hear of the loss of your love one. Essie and I were roommates for a few years while I lived in Maryland. A beautiful person she was. She will truly be missed. I pray that the family seek healing and comfort during this difficult time.

  8. reply
    Dorothy Dozier McDuffie says

    To the family of Essie Bowe Matthews,
    Our most sincere condolences to you and your family. I pray that you will treasure the laughter, embrace the memories, carry the love that will live in you. Essie was truly special and will remain in our hearts forever.

  9. reply
    Linda Brown says

    To the family of my dear friend Essie…..you all are in my thoughts and prayers. May God bless and sustain you during this difficult time. She will be greatly missed by all who were privileged to know her.

  10. reply
    Trish Ruscak says

    To the family of Essie Matthews, she was a ray of sunshine during her time as choir director for Oakland Baptist Church. She made rehearsals interesting and fun. Essie loved her music, but loved the people of God more. She will be greatly missed.

  11. reply
    Beverly Payne Willie & Family says

    Our thoughts and prayers are with the family. Essie and I were childhood friends in Portsmouth. She was a beautiful person and always kept you laughing. She will be missed.

  12. reply
    Alberta White says

    My heartfelt condolences to the family and friends of Essie Matthews. She was known as Miss Essie at Oakland Baptist Church. We loved her dearly and she loved us back, during her tenure as our Music Director.

  13. reply
    Barbara Wynn Crumwell Parker says

    That smile and warm quiet presence will be missed. May Her family be comforted. Hold on to all the wonderful memories of a beautiful loved one. Praying for unity, peace and comfort. Barbara Wynn Crumwell Parker. Class of 1966. Rest In Peace class mate. See you later. 💕

  14. reply
    Jackie Edwards Harrell says

    Growing up in Brighton with Essie and the Bowe and Ward family was truly a blessing. Essie knew and loved everybody and
    everybody knew and loved Essie. I always cherished our after school walks from Truxton School back to home on Summit and Highland Avenues. Rest in Peace my friend.

  15. reply
    Kenneth A. Keeling, Sr. says

    It was my privilege to know Essie for over 50 years as my former student, a mentoree, a friend of both my wife and myself, a fine musician, and an all-around wonderful human being. Her cheerful, positive manner, her smile, her honesty, her sense of humor, and her incredible kindness are all characteristics that no one who knew her could ever forget. She was truly a special lady, and It was a blessing to have been in contact with her over so many years. I join the many others who offer sincere sympathy to all of her family members.
    Essie, may you rest well in the peace of our Lord.

  16. reply
    Beverly R. Lawton says

    Although Essie and I reconnected during the pandemic, it was a joy to have her back in my life after 50 some years of separation. We met while students at NSU. On occasion we would see each other at music conferences..Essie was always the same, kind and sweet person I met so many years ago. I’ll miss our talks that we have been having! Our plans to get together will have to wait for a while! I know that you are resting peacefully in the arms of the Lord! I hope to join you one day in the future. Love you my friend

  17. reply
    Phelan Perry says

    My thoughts and prayers are with the rest of the family.

  18. reply
    Gwendolyn D Brunson says

    It has been our pleasure, Sr. Pastor Arthur and Gwendolyn Brunson plus those of the Helping Hand Missionary Baptist to have known my Sister in Christ and friend for many years beginning at Macedonia Baptist Church Choir then continuing through private lessons in her home. She is already missed. A loving soul and spirit, confidant, the best humor. Essie loved and enjoyed her family. It must be difficult now because its makes to sad.
    God knows how to comfort us all.

  19. reply
    Gwendolyn D Brunson says

    It has been our pleasure, Sr. Pastor Arthur and Gwendolyn Brunson plus those of the Helping Hand Missionary Baptist to have known my Sister in Christ and friend for many years beginning at Macedonia Baptist Church Choir then continuing through private lessons in her home. A loving soul and spirit, confidant, the best humor. Essie loved and enjoyed her family. It must be difficult now because its makes to sad.
    God knows how to comfort us all.

  20. reply
    Eldress Marilyn Clemons (ALLPWR Ministries Church) says

    My condolence to the Matthews & Seymore family! May God continue to keep in, His Divine peace, strength and bring about each day beautiful memories, that will never end. God bless everyone of you!

  21. reply
    Thomas Burrell says

    We are so sorry for your loss!

  22. reply
    Stephana Miles says

    My deepest condolences and prayers to the family of Essie. She was a loving and caring person who loved family, friends and life. I will miss Essie’s smiles and friendship. May her soul rest in peace.

  23. reply
    Pastors Gregory & Yvette Reese says

    Greetings To The Mathews & Seymour Family,

    Our prayers and sympathy goes out to the family!
    May the Lord continue to strengthen you as a family.
    God Blessings Upon You All!!

  24. reply
    Gloria Carroll says

    Remembering you ❤ A sweet lady.

    May God bless your family with sweet memories of you.

  25. reply
    Mae Davis says

    With heartfelt sympathy and caring prayers for you and your family.

    May the gift of time and God’s presence and love help bring healing through this time of loss.

    The Lord is near the broken hearted. Psalm 34:18

  26. reply
    Barbara Chambers Porter says

    My sincere condolences to Essie’s family. It’s been years since I’ve seen her but her picture shows her to have been as beautiful as she always was. We were early school classmates and 1966 IC Norcom graduates. I always admired her spirit and beautiful smile and thought of her often. RIP Essie for your work is done.

  27. reply
    Deirdre Ball says

    Essie I truly miss you! You were an amazing person and friend! Rest In Peace. I’ll love you always. May the Lord continue to comfort your family and friends.🙏

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