Her love was unconditional, and no matter how far and how wide she spread it, it never got thin. She had an unusual abundance of it to give.

Jessie Wofford Charles of Charlotte died March 7, 2012 at home. She was 75, a West Charlotte High School graduate and had earned her license from Mercy School of Nursing. She retired 10 years ago from the Department of Social Services and later worked as a home care helper.

Jessie Fields was born in Darlington, S.C., and came to Charlotte at an early age. She married James Wofford and had sons Ronald and Milton and daughter Carolyn. Her second marriage was to Sammy Charles in 1999. “She was his morning sunshine,” said Sammy’s daughter, Mary Ann Black.

Meant what she said

“She raised six girls,” said daughter Carolyn Wofford. “She treated them all like daughters. She was a very stern woman who said what she meant and meant what she said.

“She took a person’s inventory and if it wasn’t OK, she wouldn’t fool with them. She taught her grandkids to get an education and not depend on others. She was a loving, caring woman who went the whole way to help people,” her daughter said.

Carolyn’s daughter Tamika Martin said, “She was very outspoken and didn’t mind telling you how she felt. We could walk into any store and she would start a conversation. She’s the one who kept the family together.”

Mary Ann said, “She was a loving person and didn’t believe in anybody being left out. Everybody deserved a second chance, and she gave them second chances to get their life together. If you fell back, she was there to pick you up, or if you just needed a shoulder, she was there no matter what you did. She believed that ‘If I can’t help you, I won’t hurt you.’ She was that way with her foster children and with her own and it did not matter if you were wrong.

The ultimate wife

“If you don’t want to know the truth, don’t ask, because she would tell you point blank. If you hurt her, she always forgave you and loved you – then loved you some more,” her stepdaughter said.

“She was the ultimate wife,” Mary Ann said. “She took care of my dad. Whatever he needed, she was there.”

Son Milton Wofford Bey said, “Her love was invaluable. She always gave us unconditional love, and we’ve seen that cascade down to our children, grandchildren and others.”

Foster daughter Gail Shepherd lived with Jessie from the fifth grade until high school graduation. “She was the best mother. She made sure I got my education and after graduation, we were still close. When I moved to Mooresville, she was there. All I had to do was pick up the phone and call. When I had a problem, I’d call and she would tell me what’s right and give me scriptures. I was fortunate to have her guide me,” Gail said.

“She was an advocate for the poor. When they needed something, she’d go through the system to get it for them.” Milton said. “If she’d had a formal education, she might have been the first woman president of America.”

And who’s to say; that might be exactly what this country needs?

Editor’s note: This is our series called Lives That Matter. Written by Charlotte writer Gerry Hostetler, this weekly feature will profile individuals, recently deceased, who had a positive impact on those around them. Email editor@qcitymetro.com.

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