Momma Tee goes home


ST. PETERSBURG – Theresa “Momma Tee” Lassiter was laid to rest Oct. 6 at the Royal Palm South Cemetery, but before her body was interred, the community sent her off with love at a wake held last Friday night at Bethel Community Baptist Church.

The two-hour service gave family and friends a platform to tell their stories about a black woman who looked adversity in the face and told it to “step aside.”

Lifelong friend Vikki Denton talked about playing jackstones and hide-and-go-seek when the two of them were growing up in the 1960s. They lived doors down from each other and were like sisters.

Denton once asked Momma Tee why she always wanted to be the leader, and she replied in her smart-mouthed teenage way, “Cause I got it like that!”

She most certainly had the heart and mind of a leader.

Momma Tee’s niece, Melissa Bryant, shared an experience she had with her while helping to decorate.

“Missy, I think I need my bookshelf to the right,” Bryant said Momma Tee barked.

In disbelief, Bryant asked, “So you want me to take all the books off the shelf and move it?”

In the midst of her taking down the books, Momma Tee changed her mind.

“Naw, I think I like it better on the right side.”

And don’t think it was just the younger relatives that she ruled. Her sister, Frances Cato, has decades of Momma Tee stories.

“Not only did she try to rule all of you all, but she tried to rule the family as well. But I was a little bit stronger, and I stood my ground on certain things,” said Cato, who revealed that on the last day of her life, Momma Tee was still giving orders about what she did and did not want.

Good friend Pop Lancaster summed up Momma Tee’s life: “She did it her way,” he said.

In 2017, Momma Tee threw her hat into the political ring by announcing her run for mayor. Lancaster and many others donated to her mayoral ambitions.

“She was a sister that went up against the powers that be in this city with no fear,” said Lancaster.

Funeral services for Momma Tee were held last Saturday at Prayer Tower Church of God In Christ. She will be missed.

To reach Allen Buchanan, email

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