Kim Elyria Bell wore her trademark head kerchief wherever she went ---- to visit family and friends, church, shopping or for a short walk in The Alley, the little neighborhood near the beach in Bay St. Louis where she lived with her only son.
"She had every color of head scarf that there is, and they always matched her outfits," said niece Sabine Harper of Gulfport. "She wrapped it like the lady on the Aunt Jemima bottle, with her braided hair under it."
Before heart surgery two years ago, the 51-year-old was a housekeeper at St. Augustine Seminary, founded in 1923 as the first U.S. Catholic seminary to graduate black priests. Bell herself attended St. Rose de Lima, a Catholic church known for its lively choir and diverse congregation.
"Aunt Kimbell cared about everyone. She was not centered on her self," said Harper, who considers her aunt a mother figure.
"My two daughters called her 'Maw Maw.' She's the reason I finished my psychology degree, because she would baby-sit for the kids. She was always trying to do more for everybody else."