Pastor Hazel J. Purnell, 84, of Selbyville, went home to be with the Lord Tuesday, Feb. 18, 2014.
Pastor Purnell was born April 20, 1929, in Frankford to the late Albert and Hazel Mumford. She was one of 22 children. She received her education in the Frankford Public School. After 40 years, Pastor Purnell entered the adult education program at Delaware Technical Community College in Georgetown, where she obtained her GED. She later attended International Bible Institute and Seminary and received her diploma followed by her THB. She attended classes at IBI and Seminary for a year.
Pastor Purnell accepted the Lord in 1968 and became a member of St. John AME Church in Bishopville, Md. under the leadership of the Rev. Waters. She later became a member of St. Matthews Baptist Church, Bishopville, under the leadership of the late Rev. Dr. M.T. Mitchell. Pastor Purnell was called into the ministry in 1970.
In 1975 Elder Purnell was installed as pastor and founder of Thessalonia Baptist Church Inc. Pastor Purnell worked as a nursing assistant, machine operator, and a poultry worker until she retired in 1976. Pastor Purnell married the late Trustee John W. Purnell in 1966 a marriage of 38 years. Pastor Purnell was preceded in death by her husband in 2004.
She leaves behind one daughter, Evangelist Carolyn Shelton of Selbyville; one foster grandson John Johnson (Yolanda) of Salisbury, Md.; five sisters, Lillie Watson of Sylmer, Calif., Evelyn Major of Philadelphia, Pa., Carrie Stephens of Elkton, Md., Edna Ponzo of Selbyville, Georgianna Jackson (Henry) of Milford; and one brother Joseph Mumford (Jennifer) of Philadelphia.
A funeral service and celebration of her life will be held at noon, Saturday, March 1, at the Thessalonia Baptist Church, 17 Clendaniel Ave., Selbyville, where friends may call after 10 a.m. Burial will follow at Zoar Golden Acres. Apostle Larry Morris will deliver the eulogy and Juanita Wharton officiating.