AutumnGrove Cottage in Pearland has a special resident, Mattie B. who truly has a lifetime of knowledge to share. Mattie B. is 102 years old and has an amazing life. Her youngest son, David, shared his mom’s adventures with me and I can’t wait for everyone to read it.
Mattie B. was born on October 27, 1910 in Huntsville, Texas to Rev. David and Hattie Gooden Whiting. She was one of six children and when she was a young girl her family moved to Houston, Texas. Mattie B., as her family and friends call her, grew up in the Houston area and graduated from Booker T. Washington High School where she was the class Valedictorian. After graduating from high school, Mattie B. continued her educational journey at Prairie View A&M University. She received a bachelor’s of science degree in elementary education and graduated as a “ranking” student. She had a passion for teaching children and was on track to becoming a teacher. While she attended Prairie View A&M, she met her late husband, Roby. Mattie B. and Roby had a wonderful marriage and three loving kids, Roby Jr., Hattie Pearl and David.
Before Roby Jr. was born, Mattie B. began the journey of fulfilling her dream to become a teacher and taught elementary school for two years in the small town of Calvert, Texas. After Roby Jr. was born, she became a stay home mom while her husband, Roby, worked as a professor at Prairie View A&M University. Roby’s positive influence at Prairie View A&M led to the university naming the building for the School of Communications in is honor and is currently listed in the National Register of Historical Places. After working for Prairie View A&M for some time, Roby accepted a professorship to Texas Southern University in 1950 and the family packed up and moved to Houston. It was Mattie B.’s value of education, love for people and desire to impact lives that led her to pursue a master’s degree at Texas Southern University in counseling and guidance and return to teaching. Many young boys and girls at Turner Elementary were inspired by Mrs. Mattie B.’s dedication to her passion for education. It was a passion that was instilled in her family growing up. Mattie B’s youngest sister, Hattie Mae, became the first Black elected public official in Texas (after reconstruction), when she was elected to the Houston Independent School Board of Education. Hattie was honored by the Houston Independent School District by having the administrative building named in her honor.
Mattie B., full of life, has had many hobbies over the years; she traveled the world by conquering five different continents, played in countless bridge tournaments, enjoyed weekends at the casino, and loved the challenge of a crossword puzzle. But no matter what she did, she will never stop teaching and volunteering her time. In true Mattie B. fashion, she was an adult Sunday school teacher and served on the Choir Committee for many years at Pilgrim Congregational United Church of Christ. Mattie B. will always be known for her great sense of humor, her love of God, and her love of family. She never once missed an opportunity to be with her family, to teach a child or to travel the world. Everyone needs someone like Mattie B. in their life. Someone to look up to as an inspiration to always follow your dreams. Someone who can teach you to enjoy every aspect of life, whether that is traveling, teaching or playing bridge. AutumnGrove Cottage is blessed to have such an amazing woman be apart of our little family. Mattie B. lives happily today at the Pearland Cottage where she looks after the well-being of the residents and strives to inspire her caregivers.