TUPELO – Willie Rae Ledbetter Alexander, 97, died Wednesday, Nov. 6, 2013, at Tupelo Nursing and Rehab Center, where she had resided for the last four years.
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""Miss Willie"" was born on May 21, 1916, in Oakland Community of Itawamba County to Ollie Bell Thorn Ledbetter and John Eldridge Ledbetter. Ollie died when Willie was 2 years old. John was married to Nonnie Moore one year later. Nonnie was a devoted stepmother and grandmother. Willie had one sibling, a brother who died as an infant.
Willie attended school as a child in Oakland, where she completed 12 years of schooling, then went to Mississippi State University and received a teachers certificate. After completion she then taught school in Oakland and Tremont Schools in Itawamba County. Later after moving to Tupelo she taught school at Lawhon Elementary School in 1947 and 1948.
During this time she met Earl Alexander and they were married on June 21, 1949. Willie gave up her teaching career to become a fulltime homemaker. She was very busy raising three daughters, sewing many of their clothes while helping to work the small family farm, tending gardens, canning vegetables as the family food staple and helping to care for the farm animals.
""Miss Willie"" was a very active member of Tupelo Freewill Baptist Church for more than 50 years. She participated in most all church programs. Her special interest was teaching children about God. In her senior years she was very influential in forming a Senior Citizens Group in the church.
After Mr. Earl's death in August of 1975 she moved to McGrath Raspberry Funeral Home where she acted as their in-house night and weekend phone coverage person. After around 10 years she moved to Timberlawn Retirement Cottages. At this time she became very active in volunteerism. She worked with RSVP, senior volunteers, United Way of Lee County, United Blood Services, and Itawamba Community College Literacy Program. She received many awards for her volunteerism including United Way Top Volunteer of the year 1995, RSVP Valentine Sweetheart 1987, Volunteer Service Award 1987, and the prestigious Julius Berry Outstanding Volunteer Award, United Way of Greater Lee County, 1995.
Survivors include three daughters, Nonnie Campbell of Campbellsville, Ky., Narda O'Neal (Pat) of Tupelo and Norma Hamilton (Larry) of Tupelo; seven grandchildren, Tonya Campbell (Tom) of Taylorsville, Ky., Robbie Campbell ( Bridgette) of Lexington, Ky., Jonathan Campbell (Penny) of Georgetown, Ky., Carma Campbell Mangan (Richard) of Fountain City, Ind.. Robin O'Neal Dickerson of Smithville, Karen Hamilton Page of Birmingham, Ala., Michael Hamilton (Rhonda) of Guntown; 11 great-grand children, Patrick and Ben Campbell, Eli, Aubrey, Evie and Claire Campbell, Samantha, Alex and Taylor Mangan, Madison Rae Page and Kaylea Elizabeth Hamilton; and one great-great-grandchild, Kalyssa Campbell. She leaves numerous nieces and nephews.
Visitation will be Sunday, Nov. 10, 2013, from 2 until 4 p.m.
Memorial Services will be at W.E. Pegues Funeral Home on Tuesday, Nov. 12, 2013, at 10 a.m. with visitation one hour prior to the service.
Expressions of sympathy may be left at www.peguesfuneralhome.com.
W.E. Pegues Funeral Directors
535 West Jefferson Street Tupelo, MS 38804
Published in Northeast Mississippi Daily Journal on Nov. 9, 2013