Ms. Willie Mae Simpson, a lifelong resident of Joanna, South Carolina, was born in Newberry County, South Carolina on March 3, 1946, to the late James A. Higgins and Sarah Kinard Higgins. She was the eldest of four children.
She was educated in Laurens County District 56 public school system where she was a graduate of the Bell Street High School Class of 1965 in Clinton, South Carolina.
Willie Mae loved the Lord and received Jesus as her Savior. She was passionate and instrumental in helping Mount Olive AME build the new church. Willie helped fund raising committees, was a faithful and committed member of the Stewart Board, Missionary Board, as well as the Pulpit Aid Club at Mt. Olive. She was also dedicated to the Usher Board, as she was the President. Willie Mae always helped in God's Church, wherever needed. She was a part of the Young Woman Community Action Club (YWCAC) of Joanna, SC as well as a founding member. She even lip-synced in the choir while playing her tambourine. During the Covid-19 Pandemic, she faithfully attended Mt. Olive's Online Worship Services and meetings. She also joined Online Worship Services and Prayer Meetings with Proverbs 226 Prison MInistries, "Be Encouraged" Services, where she participated every Friday Evening and Sunday Morning.
Willie Mae began her employment career in textiles at the Hosiery Plant in Clinton, South Carolina. She also worked at Monsanto, Greenwood, South Carolina; Joanna-Greenwood Mills, Joanna, South Carolina and she retired from Michelin Tires, Spartanburg, South Carolina. Her career in textiles extended over fifty years, She met and developed many good friends during her journey.
Her passion was cooking and feeding anyone that needed a hot meal, in the community. Willie Mae often helped her deceased granddaughter, Jasmine, in the making of baked macaroni and cheese. She was well known for her sweet potato cobbler and was always opening her home to anyone who needed special assistance. Her home was often referred to as Willie Mae's Bath House. Willie Mae loved the Lord and her assigned journey. She was a twenty-seven-year cancer survivor and was always encouraging people about their health. She would say, "If you are sick and want to live, you must eat," Then she would prepare them a meal.
Willie Mae would often vacation for months during the fall and winter in Fort Worth, Texas. Her wonderful recipes and cooking brought many guests to enjoy her Joanna Cuisine. She enjoyed traveling, to visit with family. One year while visiting in Charleston, a nephew pleaded with her to stay one more week. He really enjoyed coming home from school to a hot home cooked meal. Desserts were always included, because Papa (her deceased father) , always asked "Where is the Zert?", even thou she always severed him a meal fit for a King. When Willie Mae and her family lived in Germany, she obtained a job as a short order cook, in the Base Snack Bar. The troops would always check to see if she was cooking on the line before ordering their two dozen egg omelet. If it was her day off, they would turn around.
Ms. Willie Mae Simpson departed this life on Tuesday, July 05, 2022, at the age of seventy-six.
She leaves to cherish her memories two daughters: Kimberly Simpson, of Fort Worth, TX and Rhonda Simpson of Greer, SC,; a son, Travis Peake of Joanna, SC., four grandsons: Brandon Simpson-Steven, Trevonne Simpson-Steven, Jaylin Copeland, and Jy'son Peake; two sisters: Jannie M. (Crosby) Caldwell of Ninety-Six, SC and Sarah Ethel Jackson of Charleston, SC; a brother, James Melvin (Kathy) Higgins of Newberry, SC; and a host of other relatives and friends.
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