Vernetta Ruth Willett
- Published: April 5, 2018
Vernetta Ruth Willett was the oldest of four children born to the union of Mable and Edward Willett. She always had a love for music and began piano lessons at a young age. In high school, she joined the “All City Choir” in Chicago, which had numerous performances and competitions. The delight of singing with others inspired her to enroll in voice lessons to achieve the highest quality in musical presentations. Her musical talent has provided opportunities to participate with a variety of choirs and choral organizations. This musical journey has carried her across Asia, Europe and the Caribbean Islands. Here at home, she has sung across the United States, including twice with a choir at the White House for President and Mrs. Obama. She enjoyed being a choir member in addition to being a minister of music and choir director. The training she obtained led to selecting, arranging and conducting music for weekly worship services, classrooms and a variety of children’s programs.
Her skills as a classroom teacher gave her the knowledge to direct the music curriculum in preschool through eighth grade at St. Paul Lutheran School, park districts and after school programs. Children took pleasure in participating in the number of plays she wrote and directed. The sparkling pageantry always included costumes that challenged a child’s imagination to dream. She loved shopping for the materials to make this happen.
Her lifelong dream to teach social science and anthropology as a college professor occurred after earning a Bachelor of Art degree in communications and a Master of Art degree in social science. She also obtained a Minister of Music certificate. She took great pride in being an adjunct professor at Wilberforce University in Ohio. She was an avid reader and lover of films, and would often read the book prior to viewing a particular movie.
Ms. Willett married and from that union came the highlight of her life, Barrington Emanuel White. She shared her passion for music with him as he played the cello. Her love of nature and astronomy was experienced with Barrington as she volunteered as a Boy Scout leader. She always strived for him to do his best. She was overjoyed and proud when he completed his bachelor’s degree and secured his first position in accounting.
She was always active and volunteered with a number of service groups. Her love for drama, dance and teaching social etiquette was useful as a Girl Scout leader. She enjoyed the tea parties, plays and teaching songs to the girls, including the hand bell choir. Her love for helping others was apparent as she volunteered for the South Shore U.M. Church food pantry.
Her love of music led to a number of choir affiliations, including the Jeremy Winston International Chorale, Yellow Springs Community Chorus, World House Choir, Gospel Explosion Choir and Chicago Community Renewal Choir.
Ms. Willett loved the Lord and kept in church singing His praises. She could be considered an “honorary church member” in Illinois and Ohio because she played the piano beautifully and sang at so many churches.
“V” was a diva and kept her personal life very private. However, oh my! Oh my! Her harmonious voice could draw people in to touch their heart and bring tears of joy! We so love you!
She will be missed! Ms. Willett was preceded in death by her father Edward V. Willett. She leaves to mourn her mother, Mable D. Willett; son, Barrington; two brothers, Everett and Melvin (Debi); one sister, Linda (Donald McDonald); and a host of family and friends.
Special thanks to her Ohio family and friends: Ms. Mary and the Durgans family, Shelly, Aunt Harriet, Joyce, Charlene, Kathy, Rhonda, Lisa K., Denise and Lisa and Sharon.
One of Ms. Willett’s favorite songs to sing during Holy week was “I Know My Redeemer Lives.” The Lord called her home on Resurrection Sunday for His Heavenly choir.