Lionel Nixon March 31, 2017 at 11:59 AM
My Mother, Mrs. Geraldine Payne Nixon Daniels, also known by many of her friends as “Lady Gerri” was born to the late Arthur Payne and Willa Ann Hancock Payne, in Muskogee Oklahoma October 12, 1929. Geraldine was the second youngest of 14 children of which 4 died at an early age. In her early years she professed her faith In Jesus Christ and her commitment to serving God continued as an active member of Pullman Presbyterian Church in Chicago, Illinois. In the mid-1940s the family moved to Evanston Illinois were Geraldine attended and graduated with honors from Evanston Township High School in 1948. That same year Geraldine was hired by the Illinois Bell Telephone Company (now AT&T) as the first African American telephone operator in the State Of Illinois where she pursued a career for 45 years.
Geraldine especially loved her mother Willa Ann Payne who preceded her in death. In 1948 she met her first love Johnny Nixon who preceded her in death. They were united in marriage in 1949 and had one son Lionel Bruno Nixon, a granddaughter who preceded her in death Nia Nixon, a grandson John Lionel Nixon and a great grandson Uriah Nixon. The family lived in a number of neighborhoods in Chicago. In1950 I was born and our family resided at 4250 South Wells in Fuller Park. In the1950s we lived in Englewood at 6122 S Bishop and then moved to Woodlawn residing at 6555 S. Greenwood and later 624 S. Rhodes. During the early 1960s they build a house at 8533 S. Wabash in the Chatham neighborhood, moved to Hyde Park in1963 to the University Apartments, 1451 E. 55th, in1965 5718 S Kenwood on the University of Chicago campus in 1967 South Shore at 2413 East 78th and later in 1970s the “Crandon House at 6901 S Crandon and 2 East Oak in the Gold Coast and my mother moved back to her beloved Hyde Park when she resided up until the time of her transition at 5050 South Lake Park Drive in the Regency Apartments on the lakefront.
Geraldine and Johnny were always helping young people and with their close friends from the West Side’s Lawndale community, Al and Annette Johnson developed a youth talent program of which she named “Teens With Talent”, at the Sears YMCA on the west side of Chicago. It has been said that this program was the prototype for the television show “Star Search”. In the summer of 1965 the family at Geraldine’s insistence took Lionel on a trip from Chicago driving west through Illinois Iowa, Idaho and South Dakota to YellowStone Park, Wyoming and camped out. Geraldine prepared some great campsite meals that smelled so good it attracted the bears. The trip continued to Nevada, San Francisco, down the coast to Los Angeles, back through Grand Canyon Arizona, New Mexico, Oklahoma, up through Colorado and back to Chicago. She wanted her son to know about more places than just Chicago.
In the mid-1970s Geraldine and Johnny divorced, parted and went their separate ways and mother and I moved to the prestigious 2 East Oak Street building in the middle of Chicago’s Gold Coast neighborhood. Geraldine continued her education and was the first person to complete the Chicago City Colleges Television Degree Program where she was featured on WTTW channel 11. She received her Bachelors of Science degree from Roosevelt University in Anthropology. She was a prolific reader and writer. On October 13, 1975 Geraldine’s grandson John Lionel Nixon was born just one day after her own birthday October 12th. In 1978 Geraldine remarried to Dominick Daniels. Dominick helped Geraldine establish “Lady Gerri Perfume Company”. Norel and Channel type perfumes were developed in spill proof bottles. The company had weekly marketing training programs. The company held state of the art fashion show disco events that were widely attended. The events were noted for the tasty food prepared by Geraldine and her team. My mother was a member and supporter of the Coalition To Save South Shore Country Club Park and encouraged and advised me when I had the honor of serving as its President.
As the years passed in 2004 Geraldine was stricken with dementia which later developed into Alzheimer’s disease. During this period Geraldine retained her joyful and loving sprit. Geraldine’s life will always be remembered. Geraldine was preceded in death by her 2 parents, 13 brothers and sisters, her first and second husbands Johnny and Dominick and her granddaughter Nia Nixon. Geraldine’s life will always be remembered by her only son Lionel Nixon, grandson John Lionel Nixon, her great grandchild Uriah Nixon her only remaining sibling, sister Betty Payne Johnson, many other loving nieces, nephews, cousins and friends.