Deaconess Willie Mae Claiborne, 80, affectionately known as "Granny", of 2408 Waverly St., Hopewell, passed away peacefully in her home on Wednesday morning, Jan. 9, 2013. She was accompanied by the angels as she passed from labor to reward.

She was preceded in death by her husband, Richard J. Claiborne Sr. of 59 years; her sister, Anna Naomi James; her daughters, Betty Mae Fitzgerald and Barbara "Dee Dee" Mason; her son, Clyde W. Claiborne; and her parents, Willie and Mattie Mease.

Deaconess Willie Mae Claiborne was a native of Hopewell. She was retired from Health-Text of Petersburg after many years of service. Her greatest joy and fulfillment was her work for her beloved church, Word of Life Center, where she served faithfully until her health began to decline. Her committed duties were serving as the Women's Department president (district and local), Armor Bearer president, Sunday School teacher, and in the past years she served as an usher and choir member (local and national), singing tenor and was famous for leading the choir in "I Can't Make It Without You."

Left to cherish her memory are five devoted children: two sons, Richard J. Claiborne Jr. (Janet) and Willie S. Claiborne; three daughters, LaFrance Cook (Mickey), Vanessa Patrick and Mildred Johnson "Mattie" (Ronald), all of Hopewell; one devoted brother, Howard Meese (Celestine); 18 grandchildren, 42 great-grandchildren and 6 great-great-grandchildren; devoted brothers-in-law, Oliver James Sr. and Phil Claiborne; son-in-law, Robert Fitzgerald; two goddaughters, April Turner (Jerome) of Baltimore, Md., and Joann Person (Junior) of Prince George; a host of nieces, nephews, aunts, uncles, cousins and friends, among them devoted, Bishop R. H. Cross Sr., Elder Catherine Cross and Reverend Roberts.

A homegoing celebration will be held at 1 p.m., Monday, Jan. 14, at the Word of Life Center. 2401 Boston St., Hopewell; Bishop R.H. Cross Sr., officiating. Interment will follow in the Dinwiddie Memorial Park, Dinwiddie. The family will receive friends at her daughter's home, 2250 Dellrose Drive, Hopewell.

Arrangements have been entrusted to the staff of Turner-Bland Funeral Home, Hopewell. Rev. William N. and Mrs. Doris B. Bland and Mr. James I. Gay, funeral directors. For more information or to leave an online condolence, visit blandenterprisesinc.com .

Published in The Progress-Index from Jan. 10 to Jan. 12, 2013