By Caren Kilpatrick
“Everybody love Lilly!” This was the prayer of Lelia Romney on her 90th birthday, surrounded by family and friends. Everyone I know does, in fact, love Lilly. Known to most at St. Paul’s as “Miss Lilly” she said, “St. Paul’s reminds me so much of my church at home because there is so much love.” Her church at home was the Church of God of Prophecy in Anguilla where she not only worshipped, but also preached many times. Miss Lilly has an unwavering faith in God and her only regret is that she was 30 years old before she accepted Christ.
Miss Lilly was born in Anguilla in 1924. She lived in Antigua, Puerto Rico, Tortola, St. Kitts, St. Thomas, where she became a citizen of the United States, and New York before making her way to Delray Beach. Lilly was working at a laundry in Delray Beach that was purchased by George and Patti Daniell in 1990. George and Patti were new to St. Paul’s as Day School parents and invited Lilly to join them for services and then to help in the nursery with Elaine Joy Moran. Lilly would take care of our daughter, Taylor, in the nursery and soon began babysitting “her Princess.” Taylor holds a special place in her heart to this day.
In 1992, Marvin Jr. was born prematurely to a drug addicted mother, resulting in learning disabilities. At the age of 68, Lilly agreed to raise her grandson and would legally adopt him a few years later. Marvin was baptized at St. Paul’s and George and Patti became his Godparents and have been instrumental in his upbringing. They are affectionately known to Marvin as “Gotti and Godfather.” Marvin also loves St. Paul’s, where he is proud to usher.
Raising a child with disabilities at 68, with limited resources was difficult. When we realized that Miss Lilly owned property in Anguilla, we asked her brother to sell it, and with the proceeds, we were able to pay off the mortgage on the home that she still lives in here in Delray Beach. Years ago, St. Paul’s sponsored a work day and her home was painted inside and out, new carpet installed, as well as landscaping and irrigation. Fr. Chip Stokes blessed the house. More recently our son, Trent, spent a summer off from college repainting the outside of Miss Lilly’s home. She told him stories of her life and fed him lunch every day. George Daniell has also done many projects to make Lilly’s home more comfortable.
Friends from St. Paul’s have helped Miss Lilly navigate the school system and the social services system. Marvin Jr. was able to move into a group home after graduating from high school and has a job that he really enjoys. After being on a list of over 10,000 applicants for several years, Miss Lilly was finally approved for the Medicaid Waiver last year, which in part, entitles her to the home health care and transportation that she needs.
In 2012, Miss Lilly’s son, Marvin Sr., died of heart failure. He was just 48 years old. Her St. Paul’s family once again helped her in so many ways, through this very difficult time.
Over the years, there have been so many St. Paul’s angels in her life and she said, “I dare not close my eyes at night without thanking God for all these blessings.” Miss Lilly is a special lady whose life has been transformed by St. Paul’s. She continues to transform the lives of those she meets with her spirituality, her positive attitude, cheerful demeanor, and her many prayers. She said, “ I am proud and happy to be a member of St. Paul’s Church.”
Miss Lilly became a part of our family when we met her over 25 years ago and I am proud and happy to be called her daughter.