Grace Lee Pitts of Buffalo, mother of former Buffalo Common Council President James W. Pitts, died Monday in Millard Fillmore Hospital after a brief illness. She was 86.
Born Grace Lee Williams in Widen, W.Va., she was the second oldest of 12 children and the daughter of a minister. She came to Buffalo in the late 1950s.
The mother of eight, she raised her family mostly as a single parent. She was a service worker in retail and food service businesses and a house cleaner for years until she qualified for a civil service housekeeping position at Buffalo Psychiatric Center. After she retired in 1987, she continued working, in recent years as a foster grandparent at Holy Innocents Child Care Center on Rich Street.
Active in the community, she served as a Democratic Party committeewoman for many years and was a poll inspector. She also was active in her block club and was a church mother and longtime member of Greater Emmanuel Temple Church.
Her former husband, William E., died in 1991.
Surviving are three sons, James Clifford Sanders, James W. and Mario Luque Jr.; three daughters, Wanda Lee, Linda Marie and Patricia Saunders; her stepmother, Mary Williams; three sisters, Geneva Shakelford, Naomi Turner and Elmira Harrell Tucker; and two brothers, Willie Williams and MacArthur Williams.