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Vivian Lee Willis

November 5, 1928 April 1, 2022
Vivian Lee Willis
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Obituary for Vivian Lee Willis

Vivian Lee Conner Willis departed this life to seek her heavenly reward on Friday April 1, 2022. She was born on November 5, 1928, to Milton and Lerenda Connor in Houston, Texas. She had one brother, Glyde Connor. They all preceded her in death. She professed her Christian faith at an early age. As an adult she was a faithful member of Greater Middle Baptist Church under the leadership of Rev. Benjamin L. Hooks, and later, New Hope Baptist Church of Memphis under the leadership of Pastor Robert J. Matthews.

Vivian attended Houston Public Schools and graduated from Booker T. Washington High School in 1945. She was proud of the fact that she was the first person in her extended family to graduate from high school and attend college. She entered Dillard University in New Orleans where she met the love of her life, Thomas J. Willis. They were married in 1948.

They returned to Memphis in 1953 and Vivian became a full-time stay-at-home wife and mother to Archie (1948) and Kelvin (1954). Vivian was active in the social and civic arenas of the City. She was an avid Bridge player belonging to two clubs, the Sophisticates and the Debonairs. She was also active in the Kappa Alpha Psi Auxiliary (Silhouettes) and she was an original member of the Memphis Chapter of the National Smart Set Organization.

In later years she embarked on a varied career outside the home. First with her husband and Brother-in-Law, A.W. Willis Jr. at Supreme Mortgage and Realty Co., then with the State of Tennessee’s Department of Human Services and the Office of Workforce Development. During her life Vivian had a ‘front row seat” for many of the monumental decisions in the area of civil rights and social justice that shaped Memphis and the Nation.

Vivian’s trademark smile, outgoing personality, and sense of humor enamored her to everyone she met. One of her greatest personal joys was being the Chairwoman of “The Beautiful Garden of Prayer” at Greater Middle Baptist. She was also a faithful attendee at New Hope until the last month of life.

Her husband preceded her in death in 1982. To cherish her memory are her two sons, Archie and Kelvin. Most importantly to her is the second “Thomas” in her life, her only grandchild Thomas Ingram Willis. She is also survived by numerous nieces, nephews, other “sons and daughters” she helped raise, the collective church families at Greater Middle Baptist and New Hope, and a host of friends and acquaintances.

Her Celebration of Life Services will be held on Saturday April 9th at New Hope Baptist Church of Memphis, 2350 Elvis Presley Blvd. Visitation shall begin at 9:00 am with the Homegoing Service to begin at 10:00 am. The family requests that in lieu of flowers, donations be made in her memory to the charity of the donor’s choice.

Serenity Funeral Home (901)379-0861

Previous Events

Visitation

Saturday

9

Apr

9:00 AM 4/9/2022 9:00:00 AM - 10:00 AM 4/9/2022 10:00:00 AM
New Hope Baptist Church of Memphis

2356 Elvis Presley Blvd
Memphis, TN 38106

New Hope Baptist Church of Memphis
2356 Elvis Presley Blvd Memphis 38106 TN
United States

Service

Saturday

9

Apr

10:00 AM 4/9/2022 10:00:00 AM
New Hope Baptist Church of Memphis

2356 Elvis Presley Blvd
Memphis, TN 38106

New Hope Baptist Church of Memphis
2356 Elvis Presley Blvd Memphis 38106 TN
United States

Cemetery Details

Location

Elmwood Cemetery Final Resting Place

824 S Dudley St

824 S Dudley St 38104
United States
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