Lillie M. Humes, a beauty salon owner, vocalist and church leader in Buffalo, died Thursday in Los Angeles after a long battle with Parkinson's disease. She was 83.
The former Lillie Melvin left her family's farm in North Carolina at age 18 to study fashion in New York City and then came to Buffalo, where she established Humes' Styles in Beauty in 1962 with her husband, Emanuel Humes Sr.
The couple met in the small Church of God of Prophecy in Harlem, and together they worked to establish churches in Buffalo, Rochester and Olean.
Mrs. Humes was known for her distinctive style as a hairstylist and entrepreneur. Humes Styles in Beauty on Jefferson Avenue was an essential stop for local and national celebrities and loyal clients in the community, her family said.
She also was known for her singing voice and became lead vocalist with the popular gospel group the Melvin Sisters with her sisters Reva and Jessie.
She sang in the choir at William Penn High School in High Point, N.C., where classmate John Coltrane was in the band.
She continued to sing in church until being struck by Parkinson's.
In addition to the beauty salon, Mrs. Humes and her husband established Humes Construction and Man-Lil Management, a development company that played a role in the urban renewal on the East Side.
Mrs. Humes was president of the Urban League Guild and a member of Jack & Jill of America and the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People.
She retired from her salon at age 52 when Parkinson's left her unable to work.
Her husband of 58 years died in 2009.
She is survived by four daughters, Theresa Jordan, Belinda Mullen, Dyan Nispel and Denisha; three sons, Emanuel Jr., Lemuel and James; four brothers, Archie, George, Charles and Michael Melvin; and a sister, Loretta Melvin.
Services will be at 11 a.m. Saturday in St. John Baptist Church, 184 Goodell St., after a wake at 10 a.m.