Coping with Grief
We would like to offer our sincere support to anyone coping with grief. Enter your email below for our complimentary daily grief messages. Messages run for up to one year and you can stop at any time. Your email will not be used for any other purpose.
Mae Hazel (Small) Ringgold, age 96, of Providence, RI, passed away peacefully at home on Monday afternoon, November 13, 2023 with her loving family by her side.
She was preceded in death by her parents, as well as her husband of 27 years Edward William Ringgold who died in 1984, brother Robert Small, Jr., step-brother Jasper Brown and nephew Robert Monzue Small, III.
Mae was born in 1927 and was raised in Fairmont, North Carolina, a small tobacco farming community on the border of South Carolina. She was the daughter of the late Mae (Floyd) Small and Robert Small, Sr. Following the death of her father in 1930, Mae's grandfather, Nedward Floyd became more than a father figure to Mae, he was her hero and champion.
She attended Rosenwald Elementary School, where she made life-long friends and graduated from Fairmont High School, Class of 1944. With the support of her beloved aunts, Mae graduated from North Carolina Central University, earning a Bachelor of Science in Nutrition. She was a proud member of Zeta Phi Beta
After college, Mae spent a single year teaching at Allen High School for Girls in Asheville, NC. Eunice Wyman, who later adopted the name Nina Simone, was a student at the school. Only a few years older, Mae encouraged Eunice to ignore people who bullied her for being different, telling her that she would be
famous one day.
In 1956, Mae applied for a position at St. Luke's Hospital in Pittsfield, MA. Against the advice of her family, Mae secretly boarded a northbound train, a young Black woman traveling alone to a place where she had never been, and knew no one. She was fearless and as tough as nails.
As part of the Great Northward Migration, Mae helped build a faith-based community of Black people in Pittsfield. She was a long time member of Second Congregational Church, where she taught Sunday School.
She, and her husband Edward, purchased land and built their home in Pittsfield, where their son W. Aron Ringgold was born.
Mae spent 34 years working as a dietician at St. Luke’s Hospital. After retiring, Mae returned to Fairmont, NC, becoming the Matriarch of her family. She rejoined First Baptist Church and taught Sunday school for the next 30 years, until 2021, when at age 93, she moved to Providence, RI to live with her son and
Mae enjoyed being outside and taking care of her yard. The focus of Mae’s life was her love of family and her faith. At her 90th birthday party, which was attended by family and friends who traveled from across the country, Mae was filled with the Spirit and spoke from her heart, "There's nothing wrong with money, with houses and cars. They are all wonderful things. But if you don't have love, you have nothing!"
Mae is survived by her beloved son W. Aron Ringgold and his husband Randall P. Rice of Providence, RI, as well as a large and loving group of family and friends. She is also survived by her two canine companions, whom she loved dearly, Ewok and Sherman.
Family and friends are kindly invited to attend Visiting Hours on Saturday, November 25, 2023 from 8:30 AM - 10 AM in the Second Congregational Church UCC, 50 Onota Street, Pittsfield, MA followed by a Funeral Service at 10 AM in the Second Congregational Church. Mae will be laid to rest beside her beloved husband, Edward, in Pittsfield Cemetery.
Local Funeral Arrangements under the care and direction of the Iannotti Funeral Home, 415 Washington Street, Route 117, Coventry, Rhode Island. firstname.lastname@example.org.
Additional Funeral Services provided by Dery Funeral Home, 54 Bradford Street, Pittsfield, MA 01201. www.deryfuneralhome.com. (413) 443-9151