Nurse drew strength from power of prayer, healing

| Monday, Dec. 3, 2012, 12:01 a.m.

When some patients balked at doing their physical therapy, nurse Lola Bell Goolsby listened to them pour out their woes. All the while, however, she helped exercise their limbs.

“Before they knew it, she would have exercised them for the time they were supposed to be exercised,” said her sister Nellie Bryant of Monroeville. “She had a way with them.”

Lola Bell Goolsby of Monroeville died Friday, Nov. 30, 2012, of a blood clot at UPMC Shadyside. She was 68.

She was born April 30, 1944, in Braddock to Timothy and Lillian Mae Bryant and grew up in the Patton Heights section of Monroeville. Her mother was a domestic worker, and her father worked at Westinghouse Air Brake in Wilmerding.

As a child, she enjoyed dusting and mopping the homes of elderly neighbors.

“That's the way my mother trained us — to help the elderly, to do whatever we could and never ask for money,” Bryant said.

One of 12 children, she played church with her family around the house. At 10, she became known as the “prayer warrior.”

“She knew that Bible backward and forward,” said sister Nettie McLemore of Monroeville. “She kept that Bible with her at all times. She'd make you cry, she could pray so good.”

After graduating from Gateway Senior High School, she went to the former Kane Hospital in Bridgeville to become a licensed practical nurse. In the 1960s, she moved to Brooklyn, N.Y., to become a bank teller but quit to become a domestic worker and nurse in people's homes. In the 1980s, she returned to Pittsburgh to work as a nurse, eventually at Eastern Area Adult Services.

To Mrs. Goolsby, the people she helped were more than patients.

“She always made them her family,” Bryant said. “They were always uncle, aunt, cousin, and that's how she would address them.”

Mrs. Goolsby lived with Bryant and enjoyed snatching her homemade cookies.

“She said, ‘I'll sample the things for you,'” Bryant said.

Mrs. Goolsby was an avid Steelers fan, too.

“She was sitting, waiting for hours for the game to come on,” Bryant said. “When they were winning, that towel was flying.”

In addition to her two sisters, survivors include another sister, Dolores Noble of Turtle Creek, and a brother, Harry Chisolm of Greensburg.

Mrs. Goolsby was preceded in death by sisters Alma Hobbs, Ethel Mills, Sarah Shedrick, Bernice Robinson, Beatrice Bryant and Evelyn Williams and brother Ernest Bryant.

Friends will be received from 2 to 8 p.m. Monday and 9 to 11:30 a.m. Tuesday in Alfieri Funeral Home Inc., 201 Marguerite Ave., Wilmerding. Funeral services will be at 11:30 a.m. Tuesday at the funeral home, followed by interment in Restland Memorial Park.

Bill Zlatos is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-320-7828 or

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