Born Rosa Lee Williams on January 12, 1930, at 3:50 am to Willie Williams and Ella V. Elmore who were 23 and 19, respectively, at the time of her birth, her name was quickly changed to Tommie Mae because her mother wanted her to be Tommie Mae from the very beginning.
Tommie was the name most befitting for the woman she would become: efficient, pragmatic, sharp and strong-willed. At heart, she was a Dallas girl who grew up around the city with her younger siblings, Barbara and Willie, Jr. The three lived in Bonton for the first few years of their lives, and they later moved up north to State and Thomas.
She met Robert Daniel “R.D.” Sherman, an incredibly kind fellow, through her cousin who was dating his brother. They were married on May 17, 1949, at her house. She returned the wedding dress she borrowed from a friend, later saying, “We didn't do all that fancy stuff back then”. From this union, five children were born: Lana Jean Sherman Hanks, Brenda Lynette Key, Karon Denise Thomas (Jerry), Robert Daniel Sherman, Jr. (Doris), and Ronald Karl Sherman (Sellanise). Tommie was married to R.D. for 44 years until his death in 1993. She never remarried; she never took off her copper band.
She attended BF Darrell Elementary School and later went to Booker T. Washington High School, which are both still in Dallas. She was a nurse's aide for 25+ years but had the experience of a Registered Nurse. Tommie Mae and R.D. moved their family from North Dallas to Hamilton Park in 1955 so R.D. could finish college on the GI Bill. They raised their family on Hallum Drive. Tommie lived at their house at 12620 Hallum Drive until her death on December 1, 2018.
“I say”, she would declare through pursed lips when something struck her as surprising, puzzling, or amusing. She was a woman with many expressions and sayings like “Sic’em bulldog, puppy won’t bite”, “Gimme more monkeys with longer tails”, “Yonder”, and “SHIT NOW”, just to name a few, but her stoic face always remained intact while saying them.
She loved Bingo. She started playing in the 1980s, and as the 21st century approached, she adapted to “the computer”, all the while still playing the paper cards and dotting those with her dauber accordingly. Winning often at Bingo, she would often slide $20 to one of her grandchildren, simply saying, “I hit it”.
When Tommie ended a telephone conversation, she would let the receiver click, having no more to say, signaling she was done, fulfilled, satisfied.
On April 18, 2014, Tommie held the hand of her eldest daughter, Lana, who lay in a hospital bed. At the age of 84, a woman who was not known for emotional displays, rested her forehead on her daughter's hand and sat there for ten minutes. She accepted that one of her children would precede her in death, as she had accepted, with grace, the deaths of her younger sister in 2012 and her younger brother in 2013.
“Pucklehead” was one nickname she permitted only from her cousin, Juanita, who came to live with her in 1999; the other was “Gran Gran”, which she allowed by many. Tommie had 16 grandchildren: Lana ─ Aaron, April (Antonio), Angela, Anthony, and Ava (DeAngelo); Brenda ─ Steven and Spencer; Karon ─ Courtney (Tushon), Robbin (Brandon), and Kasey; Robert, Jr. ─ Linda, Naomi, and Carolyn (Reggie); and Ronald ─ Chatara, Ronald, Jr. and Darius; 22 great-grandchildren; and a host of nieces, nephews, cousins, and friends.