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1631 Church Street
Phone: 757-622-1085
Fax: 757-624-1508
Ethel Swanagan

Ethel Lee Swanagan (Edmonds)

Saturday, February 19th, 1949 - Wednesday, February 3rd, 2021
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Ethel Lee (Edmonds) Swanagan, known as “Baby Sis”, Aunt Ethel, Ms. Ethel, Ma, and Grandma transitioned to glory at the age of 71, Wednesday February 3, 2021 in Hospice Care at Waterside Nursing Facility in Virginia Beach, Virginia.

She entered this world on a Saturday on February 19th in 1949, born to Ethel Powell Gertrude (Edmonds) Darden and Jim Allen Edmonds in Norfolk Virginia at Norfolk General Hospital. She is predeceased by her mother Ethel P. Darden and three of her older brothers, Sampson Edmonds, Fred Edmonds and Curly Edmonds. Ethel was not married at the time of her passing but leaves to cherish her many memories, one daughter: Cherique Kavonne (Swanagan) Bullock, two grand-children, Ryan Nichole (Swanagan) Stiff and Shaunn (Swanagan) Smith; one sister: Barbara Edmonds Dickerson and One brother: Leroy Edmonds (Chico) and a host of nieces, nephews, great nieces and nephews, cousins and friends.

Ethel shared her birthday month with her Mother, Ethel; Sister, Barbara; Niece, Bethany Anne (Trussell) Pebbles and her Grandson Shaunn. She lived to not only witness our First African American President, Barack Obama but also lived during the inauguration of our very first Female Vice President.

Ethel grew up in Norfolk, Virginia living most of her life in the Park Place area of Norfolk. She attended and graduated from Booker T. Washington High School in 1968 where she was a cheerleader and participated in home economics and their Mock Wedding project. Shortly after graduating she married George Emael Swanagan, and had one daughter Cherique, on August 23, 1969 in Portsmouth Virginia. Ethel attended and graduated Anne’s Beauty College in Norfolk where she became a licensed Cosmetologist and loved everything about doing hair. She began working at the age of 22 at Mackee as a cook and prep associate. Following her employment there, she continued to work in the hospitality industry working for Holiday Inn and Service America. She later transitioned to working at Wal-Mart and as a Cafeteria Worker at Lake Taylor, Norview Middle School and Granby High School. Ethel was extremely loved by all of the students and faculty she encountered because of her jovial spirit and spontaneous gift of song. Her last place of employment was at Children’s Hospital of the Kings Daughters in Norfolk as a Security and Information Clerk.

Ethel was a life-long member of Abyssinia Baptist Church in Norfolk, Virginia under Pastor Frank Guns Sr. and frequently visited Wesleyan Union African Methodist Episcopal Zion Church also in Norfolk, Virginia under Reverend Willie L. Dixon. She was a member of the Women’s Choir and Usher Board at Abyssinia Baptist Church.

If you knew Ethel you knew her to be serious about her appearance. She was always a sharp dresser and took pride in how she looked when she stepped out. Her thoughts were always “You never know who you will see” a moto she lived by up until she was admitted into Autumn Care Nursing Home in April of 2019. Ethel was also very forward and direct and she would be sure to let you know exactly how she felt at a moment’s notice. There were no grey areas when it came to her. A lesson she passed to her daughter and grandchildren, to speak their minds and “Don’t take any wooden nickels off of anyone,” meaning don’t let anyone take advantage of you.

Ethel enjoyed singing and dancing and genuinely having a good time with family and friends. Her favorite dance was the hand dance and the tick. Her favorite singers included Aretha Franklin, Mahalia Jackson, Al Green, John Legend and Anthony Hamilton. She thoroughly enjoyed her gospel music as well, such as Dottie Peoples, Dorothy Norwood, Albertina Walker and a host of others. Ethel owned a very extensive record collection representing her true love of all kinds of music. She loved to laugh and her laugh was certainly just as infections as her smile. She often thought of her daughter and grandchildren as comical often stating “Ya’ll keep me laughing.” Ethel also enjoyed her reality T.V. and one of her favorite shows was ‘The Haves and the Have Nots’. She would often call her friends up to catch up on the latest episodes. Knowing her meant that you knew she loved to cook and would feed anybody who would cross her threshold and would not let you leave empty handed. Whether it was a meal to go, snacks, trinkets or things she was trying to get rid of she had a generous heart. Ethel knew what she wanted and would never settle for less than that. If you were going to do something you were going to do it right, 100%, especially if it was for her. If she did not like something she would tell you, no sugar coating. She spared no expense to ensure she had the best that her heart desired. While she resided on 37th Street she was the Neighborhood watch and could tell you anything and everything about her block and was not ashamed to tell it. She made sure that everybody was in line and cared about the appearance of where she lived and took pride in it.

Ethel will be greatly missed and has left a special piece of her with us all to cherish and remember. Her strength, courage and vibrant personality will be remembered forever.
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Service Details

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  • Visitation

    Wednesday, February 10th, 2021 | 2:00pm - 6:00pm
    Wednesday, February 10th, 2021 2:00pm - 6:00pm
    Graves Funeral Home
    1631 Church St.
    Norfolk, VA 23504
    Get Directions: View Map | Text | Email
  • Service

    Thursday, February 11th, 2021 | 11:00am
    Thursday, February 11th, 2021 11:00am
    Graves Funeral Home
    1631 Church St.
    Norfolk, VA 23504
    Get Directions: View Map | Text | Email
  • Interment

    Rosewood Memorial Park
    601 North Witchduck Road
    Virginia Beach, Virginia 23462
    Get Directions: View Map | Text | Email


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Private Condolence
Minnie Smith-Cooper/Mimi Smith, Cherique Bullock, and other have sent flowers to the family of Ethel Lee Swanagan (Edmonds).
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Joycelyn E. Foreman

Posted at 09:27am
I send you my deepest sympathy. Words cannot console when we have lost someone we love in death. The Bible gives us great comfort. It let’s us know that death was not a part of God’s purpose when He made man. Revelation 21:3 4 tells us of better times to come. Please know that I am thinking of you at this time. Ethel Lee was a feisty person; but when she was good, she was great. I know the family will miss her. Love you.
Joycelyn Edmonds Foreman

Sarah L Murray

Posted at 09:33pm
Wow this took me for a loop. Ethel and I go way way back to our days at Tidewater Macke.. I think like 1972. We worked together for over 20 yrs. Ethel was one that loved to have fun and that we had at work, there was never a dull moment. She was my hair stylist at one point. I would bring my daughter over and get her's done too... Cherique your mom loved you so much, then when Ryan came she just pushed you out of the way and then Shaunn came along, She had 3 could talk about, but we all at Macke/Service America talked about our children a lot. Then we all went our separate ways. I started working with MV transpotations and guess who i started picking up? Ethel. She was still the same,talking about my momma, which we often did. We were suppose to be having a reunion after the pandemic was over but God had other plans for her. Ethel will surely be missed. My long time friend. Cherique you all have my deepest sympathy. God has his angel now. Love you all.
Sarah Robinson Murray

Dionne Dickerson

Posted at 04:26pm
My Aunt, affectionately known as Baby Sis, was dear to us and adored by many, she will be forever treasured in our memories. May God place her in an extraordinary place where her soul is at peace and surrounded in love by those that have passed on before her...

Oh to hear her call me Deeda Lee, Deeda Wheat, whichever came first, one more time....until we meet again in the Lord's heavenly kingdom, we love you.

To Cherique and her family, our thoughts, prayers and love is with you ...Dionne, Alex, Braelinn and Natalia

AL Boddie Posted at 07:39am

Sending my deepest condolences to you, your mom and the entire family. Praying for your strength in this difficult time. Blessings!! Allan Boddie

Minnie Smith-Cooper/Mimi Smith

Posted at 03:45pm
My dearest cousin Ethel, who I loved very much!Our long nights of talking on the phone as teens and falling asleep is my fondest memory.
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Minnie Smith-Cooper/Mimi Smith purchased the Dreams from the Heart Bouquet for the family of Ethel Swanagan. Send Flowers


Cherique Bullock

Posted at 11:58am
Forever in my Heart is where you will dwell. My memories of you forever will be with me. Love you momma. Shaunn Ryan CHERIQUE .
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Cherique Bullock purchased the Bright and Beautiful Spray and planted a memorial tree for the family of Ethel Swanagan. Send Flowers


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Sometimes extenuating circumstances make it difficult to attend a service. Memorial webcasting gives family and friends the opportunity to view a service live, online, from anywhere.

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