Cover photo for Louis E.R. Stennis, Jr.'s Obituary
1928 Brother Stennis 2024

Louis E.R. Stennis, Jr.

July 30, 1928 — February 28, 2024

Niles, Michigan

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Louis Edward Randolph Stennis, Jr., age 95 years of Niles, Michigan; devout churchman, retired postal worker, honorable veteran, cousin, and friend to many died peacefully at 7:44 a.m. on Wednesday, February 28, 2024 at West Woods of Niles following a brief illness.

He was born on July 30, 1928 in Chicago, Illinois to Louis E.R. and Sarah Louise (Wilkes) Stennis, Sr. and moved as a child with his family to Milton Township, Michigan.  He was graduated from Edwardsburg (Michigan) High School in 1947, and continued his education at the former Western Michigan College (now University) in Kalamazoo majoring in Chemical Engineering.   College was interrupted by the military draft ordering him to report for induction into the United States Army.   He served most of his tour of duty in Korea as a personnel clerk, earning the Korean Service Medal with 3 bronze stars for the campaigns in which he was involved.  He was also awarded the United Nations Service Medal, was promoted to Corporal in less than a year, and completed his two-year obligation with an Honorable Discharge.

Louis returned to college, earning a Bachelors Degree in Accounting, and then took his first job at the former Studebaker Automobile Assembly plant in South Bend, Indiana.   He eventually went back to Chicago, taking a civil service job with the United States Postal Service, first loading mail in airplanes at Midway Airport, and then loading mail in railroad cars, before moving to Chicago’s main post office where he served as a front counter clerk.  He was promoted to supervisor, and completed a thirty-year career, with retirement in 1988.   All of those years, he commuted home to Niles on the weekends, remaining an active part of the local community.

He was a near lifelong member of the Franklin African Methodist Episcopal Church in Niles, where he served many years on the Steward Board and the Missionary Society.  He volunteered as Director of the Parolee House, founded and supported by the Franklin AME congregation to ease the transition of women from incarceration to freedom and to become productive members of society.   He was a devoted historian, and enjoyed recording history through the lens of his camera, always careful to be behind the camera and out of the picture.  Every Sunday afternoon was devoted to visiting Franklin parishioners who had been unable to attend Sunday morning Worship, especially those residents of area assisted living facilities.

Louis was an active member of the Niles Chapter of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People – NAACP – and had a collection of U.S. Postage stamps and lobby posters which celebrated Black History that he displayed at fellowship breakfasts and other heritage centered gatherings.  In the early 2000’s he helped develop and present a program to raise awareness about AIDS and HIV, especially how those diseases disproportionately affect the Black and Latino communities, taught safe practices to avoid exposure, and encouraged acceptance of those who are affected by it.

When not at work, at church, or community activities, Louis enjoyed pursuing his interest in photography, and listening to pleasant jazz, often on the Elkhart Public Radio station WVPE.   He enjoyed the latest movies, always with a special group of friends whom he would chauffeur to the Niles premieres of the best films.  And he quietly and faithfully sent greeting cards – celebrations, birthdays, get-well, and condolence cards – to a long list of fellow church members and friends.

He was preceded in death by his mother, Louise Stennis on October 28, 1973, and his father, Louis Sr. on April 5, 1987, and by several aunts and uncles.

Surviving Louis is his longtime fiancée, Cordelia Barlow of Chicago.   He had no children, and was an only child himself, but he is survived by several cousins including Lorri (& Randy) Brown and Sheila Flory as well as cousins Earnest Stennis, Charles (& Dorothy) Stennis, Rita (& Homer) Darden, Freddie Blanks, Bertie Blanks, Inez Rucker, Joel Hicks, William (& Carlotta) Downing, Carolyn Lewis, Anita Downing, Delphine Hicks, Rubin Lewis, Jennifer Hicks, Matthew Downing, and Phillip Hicks.  He will be sadly missed by several neighbors including, Bill Brovold and family, Lyle Bandurski, and Brenda Wozniak; and perhaps most greatly missed by his wonderful church family, including dear friend and collaborator in many missions, Georgia Boggs.

The funeral service for Louis Stennis will be at Noon on Thursday, March 14, 2024 at the Franklin AME Church, 811 Sycamore Street in Niles with the Rev. Sandria Wilson of the church officiating.  Committal rites will follow at the Silverbrook Cemetery in Niles, and will conclude with Full Military Honors by the United States Army Honor Guard assisted by the American Legion Post #51 of Buchanan, Michigan

A time of visitation will begin at 11:00 a.m. on Thursday at the church.  Contributions in memory of Louis may be made to the Franklin AME Church.  Arrangements were completed at the Halbritter-Wickens Funeral Home, 615 East Main Street in Niles. Online condolences and memories may be left at:

www.halbritterwickens.com

Louis’ 95 years clearly exceed the Biblical promise of 70 or by reason of strength, 80; and he used all of those years to serve others, in the military, at the Post Office, in his community, and at church; fulfilling the command to Love God and love people.

To order memorial trees or send flowers to the family in memory of Louis E.R. Stennis, Jr., please visit our flower store.

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