On Sunday, January 20, 2019, Catherine Marie Waller-Lawal was called home from labor to reward. Born in Halifax, Virginia, where she attended school and was introduced to the Baptist Church at a young age. She met James Willis Harrison Sr. and relocated to New York City. Upon moving to Manhattan, she obtained a job at a day care center called U.F.B.C.O. Determined to continue her education and ensure a better quality of life for her family, she earned a Masters’ Degree in Special Education from City College. In 1971, she started a family with James, welcoming Tanya and subsequently James Jr. in 1974.
In 1981, Catherine relocated to Schenectady to be near her mother, Cathleen, her siblings (Bettie, Jimmy and Doris) and other family members. She gave birth to Aziza in 1983, her third and final child. Catherine obtained employment at Oswald D. Heck Developmental Center in Schenectady. After she retired from there, she taught GED at the Schenectady County Jail and subsequently at Coxsackie Correctional Facility.
Marie (as she was affectionately known to family) loved arts & crafts. You could always find her selling jewelry, handmade arts and crafts and African artifacts, which she was extremely proud of. She also took the initiative of opening up a store on Jay Street called the Living Image with her business partner, Michelle. The focus was on African art, clothing and other miscellaneous items. If a customer wanted something that was not available at the time, Marie would order it or make a custom item. She also encouraged her children to express their creativity through dance, piano lessons, swimming and sports. Marie was always good at finding quality activities for her children to do that were free or low cost, as she always wanted the best for them.
After Marie closed her store, she decided to sell candy and was affectionately known as “The Candy Lady”. You would find her selling her candy at Basketball games in Jerry Burrell Park and at area festivals and fairs. Marie also enjoyed securing bargains at Garage Sales. She would travel an hour away to find a good buy, dragging any family member with her. She would fill her car with so much stuff that she could barely see out the rearview mirror.
Catherine Marie departed this world on January 20th at Evergreen Commons Rehabilitation Center in East Greenbush, NY at the age of 75.
Catherine Marie was preceded in death by her parents L. Waller and Cathleen Armstead, brother Willie Waller and sister Bettie Jean Logan. She is survived by her brother, James Armstead and a sister, Doris Armstead. Her children; Tanya Hull, James Harrison Jr. and Aziza Lawal. Grandchildren; Bri’ (Breezy) Hull, Re’Asia Scott, Sheldon Roscoe, Tanaisha Hilts, Na’kya Thomas and Mason Harrison. Great Grandchildren, Bey’lee (Bean) Acquasanta, Az’yion Scott, Ah’Ziraa Scott and Andre Sinclair III. And a host of nieces and nephews.