Mother Willie B. Neal was born almost 94 years ago, August 16, 1927, in Holmes County, Mississippi, to her parents, Louis and Maggie Weathers. After beginning her education in the Holmes County Public School System, she moved to Yazoo City, Mississippi as a teen. For a short time, Mother Neal resided in Jonestown and later moved to West 2nd Street, where she raised her children.
Mother Neal met and married John Wesley Neal in 1946. Her beloved husband preceded her in death. Five children were born to this union: Johnnie Neal Jackson of Atlanta; John Wesley Neal, Jr. (deceased); Rev. Lawyer Neal, II, Waco, Texas; Willye Neal Thomas, Yazoo City, Mississippi; and Carolyn F. Neal White (Armond), Indianapolis, Indiana.
An inspiration to her family, Mother Neal stressed the importance of education to her children. She was the unidentified, concerned parent quoted in the ‘History of Lamar Street – Ann Brooks Center, who spoke of the need for a kindergarten in Yazoo City. Although she did not know how she would send her five children to college, she prioritized higher education in her home. As a result, all five children earned scholarships which assisted in defraying college expenses.
Having four children in college, Mother Willie B. Neal began studying for her GED and finished the program by passing her exams at Valley State College, now Mississippi Valley State University.
Active in her church and community, Mother Neal was a member of St. Peter Baptist Church for eighty years. At St. Peter, she served in numerous capacities, including: Senior Choir Director; Missionary Society President; Sunday School Teacher of the Children’s Class; Young Women’s Association (YWA) and Laymen League Coordinator, in addition to Angelic Mass Choir featured soloist. Beyond her local church, she was active in Yazoo County Associations and State Conventions where she shared her talents as Yazoo County Song Leaders Association President, and Mississippi State Gospel Chorus Secretary.
Mother Willie B, Neal’s civic and social involvement included the Paul Lawrence Dunbar Federated Club; the NAACP; and the Triangle Cultural Center Board of Directors. She was employed by the State of Mississippi at the former Welfare Department. As a homemaker from 1965 to 1989, she helped bring stability to numerous at-risk families. After twenty-five years on the job, she came home to care for her husband who was ill at the time.
Mother Neal became an entrepreneur in her eighties when she opened “Weathers and Neal Thrift Shop.”, She became a radio personality on WJNS Radio, and in her nineties she hosted “A Thought - With Mother Willie B. Neal”, on WYAD, which airs Sunday mornings and Monday nights locally.
Mother Willie B. Neal leaves to mourn her transition her four living children and her grandchildren: Patrice Carlton, Valerie Carlton, Rodney Neal, Russell Neal; Ronald Neal, Cortez Grady, Shayla Smith, James Reginald Jackson, Margaret Neal Enis, Tariq Naseer, Jonathan Neal, Jessika Neal, Felica Neal Smith, Candace Neal, and Crystal Anthony, in addition to numerous great grandchildren. Also mourning her transition are her sisters Vera Weathers Hubbard and Kathy Weathers Perry, brothers, Rev. Joe N. Weathers and Robert “Mane” Perry, along with nieces, nephews and a host of other relatives and friends, including God sons: Eugene Toliver of Daytona Beach Florida, who never failed to check on her on Saturday mornings, and Tommie Spires, Yazoo City, childhood protégé and caretaker.
Resolutions : Sen. Joseph C. Thomas, Rep. Bennie Thompson and The West Second-Lucille Street Family
Acknowledgements: Many thanks to St. Peter Baptist Church, who provided the Drive-thru Repast, Rev. Steve Dennis, Pastor; New King Solomon Baptist Church Sanctuary, Rev. Dr. Gregory Robinson, Pastor; and Mother Neal's son, Rev. Lawyer Neal, Eulogist. Your very generous cards, delicious food, flowers, text messages and phone calls are much appreciated. Special thanks to our numerous classmates and friends who have prayed for and honored our mother during our bereavement. To our neighbors at 620 Webster Avenue, you have been fantastic throughout the years of our mother's illness. We thank you for keeping watch and lending the use of your skillful hands where ever needed. We are eternally grateful to all of you.