For Mallicia Tipps, her son and daughters were everything.
“She dedicated herself to her children,” her sister, Taji Green-Daniels, said.
So when the children’s father, Tipps' then-fiancé, Leon White, was killed in a triple-shooting on East Delavan Avenue in 2005, her devotion became all the more important, all the more urgent.
Her eldest, who bears his father’s name, was just 3 at the time. She was pregnant with her youngest, Noel, which was Leon spelled backwards. In between was Leah, Tipps’ spitting image.
Tipps covered her house with photos and mementos of their late father, to make sure they would always know him. At the same time, she also filled the home with as much love as she could.
“She tried to make sure that they understood that they still had family, love and support,” her cousin, William “Tony” Scurry said.
Now her family will carry on a new mission of keeping alive the memory of a loved one whose life was cut short by violence.
Tipps was shopping with a friend in the Sears department store at the McKinley Mall last Wednesday when her ex-boyfriend chased her down and fatally stabbed her. He was caught several hours later in Niagara Falls.
“She didn’t deserve this,” Green-Daniels said.
Tipps was born in Florida but her family was from Buffalo and they moved back when she was a baby.
“She doesn’t know anything but Buffalo,” Scurry said.
Her name – Mallicia – was a combination of her great-grandmothers’ names: Molly and Alice.
As a child, Tipps was sweet but quiet, almost timid, her sister and cousin recounted.
“She was always the peacemaker,” Scurry said.
They smiled remembering her 6th birthday party, when her friends were running around the house making noise. She pulled her big sister, 11 years older than she was, to the side and begged her: “Could you make them be quiet?”
Tipps went to School 8 and Traditional High School. She got a degree at Bryant & Stratton and worked most of her life for Kaleida Health at Buffalo General Medical Center, doing patient registration in the Emergency Department. She had been on disability recently after being injured in a car accident but was planning on going back to her job soon.
She was proud of her work, but when it came her kids, they came first.
She drove each child to their schools every morning: Leon, now 16, to Maritime Charter School, Leah, 15, to Hutch-Tech and Noel, 14, to Sacred Heart Academy, to which she won an academic scholarship. She also would drive her godson to his school.
She was proud of all three children. Leon is a rising star in the Buffalo Police Department’s Explorers program and plans to join the Marines and then later become a law enforcement officer. The girls are both honor students at their respective schools.
Leon spoke softly of his mother Monday in the living room of their home on Norway Park.
“My mom helped me a lot through my life,” he said. “She was a very loving, caring person.”
He recounted a funny moment they shared from a few weeks ago. Leon has a pet baby python and his mom took him shopping for two mini rats to feed it. They were driving when Leon realized the rats had chewed their way out of the cardboard box they were being carried in. Immediately, she pulled over and Leon scoured the car for them, eventually finding them under the center console.
Tipps and her children had moved back to their first-floor flat on Norway Park in February, after moving out of the home they had shared with the man who is now suspected of ending Tipps’ life. Tipps bought the building, a two-unit, not long after her fiancé died.
Her sister showed the progress that was being made at the three-bedroom flat.
Tipps converted a dining room area into her own bedroom. That way all of her growing teenage children could have their own rooms.
She had recently redone the bathroom, putting in a new floor and new tile, and was in the process of tearing up the kitchen.
“That’s why she was at Sears,” Green-Daniels said. She was looking for a new refrigerator and stove.
At 6 p.m. Wednesday, the community is invited to a vigil organized by the Buffalo Peacemakers in Tipps’ honor. It will be held on Norway Park, north of Best Street, where the Tipps family lives. Depending on the weather, participants will either light candles or release balloons in Tipps’s memory and to raise awareness about the senseless violence that claimed her life.
“We won’t forget her,” Scurry said of his cousin. “But we don’t want the circumstances (of how she died) to be why she’s remembered.”
Tipps’ loved ones want people to remember her smile, her kindness and her love for her family.
“She was a beautiful person,” Scurry said, “and she had a beautiful spirit.”
In addition to her children and Green-Daniels, Tipps is survived by her parents, Renee Tipps and Larry Johnson, and a second sister, Waltrice Tipps.
At 10 a.m. Saturday, a visitation will be held in True Bethel Baptist Church, 907 E. Ferry St., followed by a funeral service at 11 a.m.
Family members have set up a GoFundMe page for Tipps' three children. The goal is to raise $30,000, and the money will be used to start a college fund for them.
"In this time of tragedy, these village babies need to know that they are loved and have a chance in this world. Therefore, we are asking the world to show them that they are thought of, loved, and have a chance," the page says.
News Staff Reporter Deidre Williams contributed to this report.
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