In that great gettin' up mornin'
Fare ye well
Willa M. Cooper (Willie May Campbell)
December 21, 1923 - June 25, 2020
Willie May Campbell was born December 21, 1923, to Tilden and Diana Campbell, in Grapeland Mississippi. She was the middle child of siblings, Floyd, Jessie, Johnny, and Nina. Willa found joy in caring for the family farm and her beloved pets chicken, calf and horse. Early mornings on the farm working with her father developed her exceptional work ethic. Her mother’s dream for her children was to achieve educational success. Her oldest brother Floyd was a talented tailor who sparked her passion for fashion. Willa was known for her impeccable style and dressed to the nines for every occasion. Growing up in Mississippi left little opportunity for the daughter of a Black Indian and a newly freed slave. Willa’s thirst for knowledge moved her throughout the Delta where she finished high school and pursued further education.
In 1939 she married James Cooper, an aspiring Tuskegee Airman and soon after they had two additions to the family; Pearl and Bunny. Willa, like many military wives worked on the Assembly Line making airplane wings in San Antonio, Texas. Over the years, due to James’ military career, the family moved many times before landing at Bowling Air Force Base in Washington, DC. After World War II they remained in Washington where she worked for 35 years at Freemans Hospital (now Howard University Hospital) until her retirement. Affectionately known as Mother Dear she was a pillar of inspiration to young and old alike at the University and in her community.
She accepted the Lord as her personal Savior at an early age and exemplified the teachings of Christ in her daily walk. Mother Dear joined Pilgrim Baptist Church under the leadership of the late Charles Green; current Pastor L. B. Jones II. With unwavering faith and conviction she held countless titles including the Recording Secretary of the Lott Carey Foreign Mission, Eastern Region of the Progressive National Baptist Convention, President of the Mothers Board, Nurses Auxiliary and Pastors Partners . She sang 1st soprano in many choirs over the years including the legendary Sanctuary Choristers.
Mother Dear is known to sing anytime and anywhere. Now she can sing the songs of Zion in Glory to her hearts content. Mother Dear touched many lives beyond bloodlines, raising many children and nurturing hundreds. She leaves behind to continue her work daughters, Berneda (Bunny) Johnson, and Sybil Ivey. Son-in-law; Max Johnson; Grandchildren, Kenny Max, Krishnu (Popi), and Lanz (Tito). Great grandchildren Jordyn J; Jordon S; Lincoln; and Lenny. Along with countless cousins, nieces, nephews, and her extended family in Christ
Until we meet again... “See ya later alligator, after while crocodile”
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