Amanda Allen Booker was known as an angel in the impoverished community of Tildenville — operating a daycare to allow parents to work and oftentimes buying food and diapers with her own money to make sure the babies were fed and dry. For decades, she served as director of the Tildenville Missionary Baptist Church Childcare Center and even helped raise funds to get it started — by baking hundreds of sweet potato pies.
Booker, 93, died Sunday, Jan. 7, 2024.
Booker was born in Edison, Georgia, March 1, 1930 — the sixth of eight children — to Jessie and Georgia Lee West Allen and moved to Winter Garden when she was 18.
She attended Mt. Ebelle School, skipping two grades because of her advanced intelligence, as well as Arlington and Edison High School. She was an inquisitive child who learned to sew when she was 3 and won first prize for sewing and embroidery in the 4-H Club at age 7. She loved playing the piano.
She continued her education at Price’s Sewing and Tailoring School when she became a Winter Garden resident and received her high school diploma at Charles R. Drew High School. She then studied food, nutrition and advanced seamstressing through the University of Florida Extension Program and studied early childhood education through 4C’s at several area colleges.
Booker worked for the state of Florida as a Florida Extension homemaker before running the childcare center in Tildenville.
This center would become a haven in the community, and Booker provided love, education, nutrition and health care for the children for decades. She washed and dried the daycare center clothing at her own home, as well, because the center didn’t have a washer or dryer.
In addition to being a safe place for children, the center served as a network of resources for residents seeking employment opportunities, as well as donated clothing and furniture.
In order to make ends meet, Booker maintained several jobs and even took in laundry on the weekends. She was known to be generous to a fault, she loved people, and she fed anyone who entered her home. She was a history buff and loved to travel.
She was known for liking nice things — she bought a car before she learned how to drive, and she paid $50 for a lot on East Bay Street because she wanted to have her own home.
A strong Christian woman, Booker was a longtime member of Tildenville Missionary Baptist Church and served in several capacities there. She was a member of the Order of the Eastern Star, Heroines of Jericho, District Prayer Band and other civic and community organizations. Once nominated for Florida’s Woman of the Year, Booker was recognized by the West Orange Culture Keepers as a Citizen of Distinction for her service to her community.
A few years ago, the Winter Garden Heritage Foundation honored a number of women in the area in its Women of West Orange County exhibition, and Booker was among the honorees.
Service to others always was her mission, and she made many visits to ill and homebound residents.
Booker was married to the late Major Booker for 28 years and had five children: Major Jean Booker Kiner, Cassie Ann Booker Williams, George Lamond Booker, Dr. Frances Evon Booker Dixson and Dexter Leon Booker. She was a grandmother and great-grandmother as well.