Willie Mae Dunn

February 5, 1919 ~ January 26, 2018 (age 98)

On February 5, 1919, the Lord approved the birth of one of His highly favored angels into this world, Willie Mae Dunn, born in Vidalia, Louisiana. She was gifted to Johnny and Patsy Woods Sanders as her earthly parents. She was the only girl of five children. Being the daughter of a sharecropper who had a keen sense of business, Willie Mae learned the value of hard work and saving her money at a young age. She also accepted Christ as her personal Savior at a young and tender age.

Seeking a better life, the Sanders Family relocated to Ferriday, Louisiana. It was there, Willie Mae received her early education. The family later moved to Baton Rouge, Louisiana. There, she attended Southern University and Grambling State, earning her Bachelor of Arts Degree in Education. Shortly afterwards, she received a teaching position in a small town where she taught for one year.

At the beginning of World War II, Willie Mae moved to Detroit, Michigan, where she resided with the Baines Family; actually, they unofficially adopted her as one of their own. Shortly afterwards, she found employment as a Dietician Assistant at one of the largest hospitals in Detroit. She later returned to Baton Rouge to care for her ailing mother. It was during this time that she caught the eye of Wilbert Dunn. He once said to his mother; “If I were to marry, it would be to someone with the same qualities and character as Willie Mae.” They were united in Holy Matrimony in October 1945. Their Union was blessed with their only child, Patricia Ann.

In 1949, while construction work had slowed down in Louisiana, an opportunity arose in San Diego, California. In January 1950, Willie Mae and her daughter joined Wilbert in San Diego.

After arriving in San Diego, Willie Mae began working at the Douglas Hotel as a housekeeper. She later attended school for welding, where she perfected the trade in all categories. After completing her training, she began working for Solar Aircraft Industries. Soon after, she and Wilbert purchased property and built an apartment building.

One of Willie Mae’s tenants suggested that with her Louisiana teaching credentials, she should apply with San Diego Unified School District. This would allow her to be home when her daughter came home from school.

Willie Mae, who dearly loved teaching, applied for a position with San Diego Unified School District and was hired as a substitute teacher. She went back to school at San Diego State University to meet the California State requirements for her Bachelor of Arts Degree. After completing her courses, she took additional courses to qualify her to teach Special Education. Afterwards, she was offered several contracts in a teaching position with several schools; however, she selected Valencia Park Elementary School. She retired in 1982 after twenty-two years with service of excellence.

Willie Mae and her family united with Mt. Zion Missionary Baptist Church under the leadership of the late Reverend Caney Johnson and continued under Reverend J. Linzie Whitmill. She served in several capacities, including Sunday School Teacher, Teacher and Director of B.T.U. and Conductor for Vacation Bible School and she sang in the Zion Choir, where she was one of the leading soloists. She was also active in the Senior Mission, as well as the Progressive Baptist District, State and National associations.

Willie Mae loved God, her family, her church, her pastor, her Oceanside family and all who knew her. Her lasting desire was that she had lived her life in such a way that she would be an example for her family and others to follow.

On January 25, 2018, Willie Mae Dunn had a conference with God. He assured her everything was going to be alright. He told her that her daughter was also going to be alright; God had her back! On Friday, January 26, 2018 at 8:10 A.M., God called Willie Mae Dunn before Him and said “Come unto me and rest and I will give you peace. You have fought a good fight, you kept the faith and finish your course; WELL DONE MY GOOD AND FAITHFUL SERVANT!”

She was preceded in death by her husband, Wilbert Dunn; her parents, Johnny and Patsy Sanders; four brothers, Johnny, David, Steve and Elmo Sanders; all of her, aunts, cousins and some of her nieces and nephews.

Willie Mae will be deeply missed by her devoted daughter, Patricia Ann Dunn  of San Diego, CA; sisters-in-law, Classie Dunn of San Diego, CA and Olivia Sanders of DeRidder, LA; one cousin, Elizabeth Kelly of Alameda, CA; extended family, Earlene Wright, Janice Gabriel, Gail Sheppard, Jacky Robinson all of San Diego, CA and Joyce Wilson of Missouri; her Mt. Zion Church Family and a host of nieces, nephews and friends.


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