THE HOME OF Rosa Mae Butts Lord was a study in barely controlled chaos on Friday nights and Sundays after church.
The sounds of happy children eating and laughing bounced off the walls, but Rosa loved it. She had devoted most of her long life to children - those of her own extended family, neighborhood youngsters and the many she cared for at her day-care center.
"Her home reflected her warm, open personality," said her oldest granddaughter, Carol Robinson Downs. "We were always welcome there and we all have our special stories and special memories."
Rosa Lord, who was a devoted member of Holy Temple Church of God in Christ in West Philadelphia and whose passion for her religion often inspired her to break out in a song of praise, died Thursday. She was 92 and had lived for the past 70 years in the section of West Philadelphia called "the Bottom."
"The Lord home was always open," her family said. "She fed the hungry, took care of the sick and let the homeless move in."
"She was the sweetest woman who ever lived," her granddaughter said. "But she was also a strict disciplinarian, never sparing the rod."
Rosa was born in Sandersville, Ga., one of the 13 children of Roe-ana Dawson Butts and Milas Butts. She received her early education there.
She grew up with Samuel Kelsey, who became a bishop in the Church of God in Christ and a prominent radio pastor in Washington, D.C., for 40 years. He died in 1993.
Rosa joined the Gordy Grove COGIC in Milledgeville, Ga., at age 12.
After marrying the late Burley Lord, she moved to Philadelphia in 1936 and worked for a time as a housekeeper at the old Clicker Hotel, at 13th and Market streets.
But her main career was caring for children. The principal of the Cassidy Elementary School used to send parents to Mom Rosa when they needed good, reliable child care.
"Not only did she care for their children, but she also often gave informal parenting lessons and led the parents to the Lord," her family said.
After arriving in Philadelphia, she joined Holy Temple under the leadership of the late Bishop O.T. Jones Sr. She was a charter member of the Hands for the Needy, the Senior Usher Board, and the Gospel Chorus.
Church members looked forward to the delicious cakes and pies she cooked for church affairs.
In her later years, Rosa enjoyed sitting in her special chair and listening to religious programming and gospel-singing on television.
She and her daughter Ethel Jean Lord had a revival of their own, watching DVDs from the last Church of God in Christ Holy Convocation, held each year in Memphis.
"She worshipped with the Saints in Memphis from her living-room chair," her family said.
Besides Ethel Jean, she is survived by three other daughters, Mary Goodson, Joan Moore and Jackie English; two sons, Jerome and Ronald Lord; a brother, Dawson Butts; 27 grandchildren; 44 great-grandchildren; eight great-great-grandchildren, and three adopted grandchildren, Sam, Freddie and EJ Johnson.