Jessie Lee Coleman, 98, a loving mother, retired city schoolteacher, and widow of former Philadelphia City Council President Joseph E. Coleman, died Saturday, May 8, at her West Mount Airy home.

During her husband’s years as president, from 1980 to 1992, Mrs. Coleman was affectionately christened the “First Lady of City Council.”

At a recent memorial service, a speaker compared her to another first lady, Michelle Obama, her son, Gregory A. Coleman, said.

“One of the people who knew her said, ‘She was Michelle Obama before there was a Michelle Obama,” he said, referring to the women’s powerful influence on their husbands’ political careers.

The two women even shared the same birth date, Jan. 17, the speaker noted.

Mrs. Coleman was the “woman behind the man” who doesn’t get the glory, but is often the one who should be celebrated, her son said. “She was devoted to her husband, who was a brilliant man, but they were a team. Without her, there wouldn’t be him.”

Mr. Coleman, known for his 20 years on Council from 1972 to 1992, was both a chemist and a patent attorney. For many years, Mrs. Coleman was a stay-at-home mother.

Gregory Coleman described their home on a quiet street not far from Lincoln Drive as an idyllic place. The Colemans were one of the first Black families on the block when they moved there in July 1954.

“It’s a lovely integrated community, a beautiful block. It was a very friendly, welcoming neighborhood,” he said.

They lived close enough to Lingelbach Elementary, on Wayne Avenue at Johnson Street, that he and his sisters walked home for lunch every day. There, Mrs. Coleman always had their meal ready and helped them prepare for their afternoon classes.

“She was the sweetest and most loving, caring mother you could imagine,” he said. He noted she died the day before Mother’s Day.

Jessie Lee Bryant was born Jan. 17, 1923, on a farm in Columbus, Miss. The third of four children of Charlie and Hannah Bryant, she graduated from Union Academy High School in 1942.

Afterward, she spent time between Columbus and Reading, where she stayed with an older sister while studying to become a beautician.

In Mississippi, however, a young man who first noticed her while she was in high school made his intentions known.

On June 2, 1946, Ms. Bryant married Joseph Edward Coleman, the son of an itinerant preacher, who lived in a nearby town.

The couple left Mississippi to live in Reading, where Mrs. Coleman joined her sister and brother-in-law and opened a barbershop and beauty salon. By the following year, in 1947, the couple had their first child.

A few years later, the family moved to La Mott, in Montgomery County, where they had a second child, a daughter.

The Colemans always wanted to move to Philadelphia and in 1954 they found a home they fell in love with near Lincoln Drive. Two years later, they welcomed a second daughter, Stephanie Ann, who preceded her parents in death in 1997.

Gregory Coleman said their home was a warm and welcoming place, where his mother was the consummate host who loved to entertain. Her apple pies were deemed the best.

As her youngest children reached their teen years, Mrs. Coleman enrolled at St. Joseph’s University, where she earned a bachelor’s degree. She later earned a master’s degree in education from Arcadia University.

Mrs. Coleman started teaching in November 1970 and “received a commendation for her commitment to improving students’ achievement” in September 1989, a spokesperson for the School District of Philadelphia said. She retired from Martha Washington Elementary in June 1993.

Afterward, Mrs. Coleman and her daughters established the JSJ Learning Center, to provide remedial reading, tutoring, and emotional coping skills to low-income children.

A woman of faith, she was a deaconess at the First Presbyterian Church of Germantown.

In 1992, Mrs. Coleman and her husband, who died Dec. 31, 2000, founded the Joseph E. Coleman and Jessie L. Coleman Scholarship Fund to award grants to high school graduates.

Her generosity also extended to organizations she served, including Delta Sigma Theta, the sorority where she had been a member for 40 years.

In addition to her son, Mrs. Coleman is survived by daughter Jennifer Coleman-Miner, seven grandchildren, nine great-grandchildren, and other relatives and friends.

A funeral service was held May 19.