Plumie Willis, 85, Mother of civil rights attorney
Chicago attorney Standish Willis lost his mother at the end of 2007. On Jan. 8, 2008, many friends, colleagues, politicians and activists attended the homegoing services for Mrs. Plumie Willis, at Greater Holy Temple Church of God in Christ, 246 N. California, where Rev. Lamont Lenox is the pastor. Mrs. Willis had been a member since 1965.
As many of her friends, church members and family stated, she was a mother who loved her children, grandchildren, great-grandchildren, nieces, church family and a wide range of friends. One of her friends, Mrs. Earleen Houston, told about how she was paralyzed three years ago and how Plumie supported and encouraged her.
Attorney Larry Kennon, a leader for years in the Jon Burge case, offered sympathy to Stan and his family, as did Brenetta Howell Barrett, vice president of The Chicago Committee to Defend the Bill Of Rights and president of Pathfinders Organization, and Cong. Danny K. Davis and Ald. Ed Smith. Pat Hill, Afro-American Police League president spoke on behalf of Black People Against Police Brutality, an organization that Stan Willis and Kennon founded.
Her only niece, Mrs. Kirkland, came from Arkansas and told everyone how much her aunt, whom she grew up with, loved to talk. “Sometimes I would call Aunt Plumie, and she would talk so much I would forget what I called for,” she recalled.
Mrs. Willis’ oldest friend, Dr. Ann Brickel, read a tribute poem she had written using the letters of Plumie’s name-Pleasant, Precious, Prayerful, Loving, Lovely, Longevity, Unique, Understanding, Magnificent, Mentor, Mother, Intercessor, Exceptional and Encouragement. Dr. Brickel and Mrs. Willis had been friends for 58 years.
The eulogy by Rev. Lenox was filled with joy, laughter and admiration. He was also the organist during the choir selections. The theme of his eulogy was “I See Jesus” which was Plumie’s favorite song. “Although her eyesight was hindered, she knew she would see Jesus. You’re only here on this planet for a little time. None of us are here forever. So we should ask, ‘How am I living my life? Am I right with the Lord?’ We need to spend time forgiving and loving each other,” said Lenox.
Her young grandson, Ryshaun Willis, read a tribute to his grandmother. According to her obituary, she was born in Forest City, Ark. She married Andrew Willis and their life was filled with hard work, including as share-croppers. After her first child, Stan, was born, she became a beautician. In a poem Stan wrote, he reflected on how proud he was as a youngster seeing his mother and father in the audience after he had won a essay contest.
Members of the church praised Stan’s youngest brother, Sheldon, for being so devoted to his mother and making sure she attended church each Sunday after her eyesight started to fail. Many church members also praised Stan’s sister (Winnette) and another brother, Reginald, for being so devoted until her passing from cancer.
In 1967, Plumie Willis became a certified nurse assistant at the University of Illinois Medical Center where she worked until retirement in the early 1990s. She took early retirement because she had lost much of her sight to glaucoma.
Plumie Willis is survived by children, Standish, Winnette, Reginald and Sheldon, grandchildren, great-grandchildren, two goddaughters, family and friends.
Evelyn Johnson, 63, Longtime Chicago Park District employee
Evelyn Patricia Johnson, 63, longtime West Side resident and member of New Mount Pilgrim M.B. Church, died on Dec. 21, 2007. Her homegoing services were held Jan. 8 at New Mount Pilgrim, 4301 W. Washington Blvd. where Rev. Dr. Marshall Hatch is pastor.
Ms. Johnson attended Ulysses S. Grant Elementary School on the West Side and graduated from John Marshall High School. She went to college, taking courses in business, physical education and real estate.
Working with politicians like Alderman Ed Smith and Congressman Danny Davis (who were in attendance at the service), she fought for and against many changes. One accomplishment was that she had recently finished writing a play on African-American ancestors for children.
For 38 years, she was employed with the Chicago Park District where she held many positions. Commissioner Barbara McGowan praised her devotion to the park district and always standing and fighting for children.
Evelyn Johnson is survived by her three children, Dora (“Princess”), Herbert, and Ina; three grandchildren; three sisters, Loretta (Woody), Delores (John), and Linda (Otha); two special nieces, Sabina “Lynn” and Sabrina “Neicy”; and many aunts, uncles, nieces, nephews, cousins, extended family, friends and co-workers.