Photography

Dr. Willie E Jeffery

September 29, 1933 ~ July 5, 2023 (age 89) 89 Years Old

Dr. Willie Jeffery Obituary

"This is Willie Jeffery"

“This is ... Willie Jeffery. Give me a call. You missed me
this time.”
The affable voice left behind.
Cool. Calm. Confidently smooth.
The quiet gravitas. The planetary pull.
The gravity of his transcendence
Who was this man?
“This is Willie Edward Jeffery.”
The man who carried me above his heart
Strong legs that won foot races
The 440 and 200 at Sac State
Even defeating an Olympian
Easy like when he was shooting college three’s
At Sacramento City
And collecting trophies in shiny cars
From drag racing in stadiums at
California’s speedways
Back in the 60s when being Black
meant you weren’t supposed to be doing all that
Black and unapologetically proud
With love in his heart for all
Gliding a foxtrot or a freshly learned merengue,
Spinning my laughing mother, his Sharon,
on her toes,
Love of rhythm,
effortless soul,
“Oo-wee! Oo-wee!”
The discos!
He’d look at my mother and say, “Let’s go.”
Gospel, blues, big band jazz.
Jazzzzzzzzzz!
The syncopated chords,
The frenetic notes
Trumpets with hard hats and saxophones
Loud on the sound systems he displayed and drove
Pulsating off of white walls from the 8 track in his
Monte Carlo

Buttery like the way he slipped away to heaven’s
hidden plane,
With a contented look upon his face,
Of course, grace. Always that.
Graceful like arrow collars in tuxedo jackets
Like the suave turn of his wrench
On a relative’s car engine
Or under the family Mercedes,
in the Mojave Desert’s 120-degree heat
Big hands hammering under the kitchen sink
Safe hands holding me down
From flying off of Space Mountain
The muscle memory from years of racing
guiding our family off Mt. Rainier
when the steering column failed at 4,000 feet
But never uttering a panicked word
until we were safely parked on a Seattle street
This is Willie Jeffery.
A cheerful boy who appeared with little
announcement
Born of his mother, Amy Lee Wells, and his father,
Willie Jeffery
On September 29, 1933.
A boy who collected Li’l Abner comics
Loved his mother’s fried apple pies
Went to classes taught by his aunt, Ora Mae
Collier
The second child of six,
With siblings Elenor, Jim, Randolph, Walton and
little Otha
This is Willie Jeffery.
Out of bed and to work on time
Volunteering with Wiley Manuel Law Foundation
Molding nervous kids into Moot Court lawyers
And mentoring future leaders
At Oakland High School’s BSU
Getting students in for admissions interviews
And helping them get college scholarships
There have been more than a few!

Stacks of books on Africa, math, and history
Expert in the nation’s founding
The stars and Stripes he answered the call to defend
Drafted during the war in Korea
He found himself stationed in Germany
One of the guys with his army pals
Arms locked over Bavarian drafts
The foam he tried to recreate when he returned home
By pouring salt into his American beer
“Was ist los?” he would joke with me.
Friends,
he made them easily
Not really too shy,
He found himself on stage with MC Hammer
And a soundstage with Sharon on Donahue
He’d climbed to the top of a Holland windmill
And the leaderboard with his teammates on the golf
green
But he didn’t boast, either
Because nobody who saw Willie Jeffery attempt
anything
Ever could forget it
Slamming dominoes on a shaky card table
Turning barbecue on the grill
Down home and sophisticated
Tabasco sauce and porcelain chopsticks
The “Black Commander” on the CB radio
during family road trips
A volunteer basketballer for the March of Dimes
A pillar in the community
A cornerstone at New Hope Baptist Church in
Sacramento
A tenor in Allen Temple Baptist Church men’s chorus
A dutiful son
A mentor to hundreds of students
A shoulder to cry on
A help-mate during his wife’s years on Romper Room,
Never envious of her success in children’s television
For nearly 53 years, a partner in life
And a man in love with his wife.
The young fingers that played the drums in school
Would go on to tuck his children in at night
Family. Always that.
Sacrificing for family
Saving to pay for piano lessons
And karate
And oil paints
And computers
And camera equipment
And college

He watched his son, Diallo, graduate from Morehouse,
And his wife, Sharon, and daughter, Akilah, graduate
from UC Berkeley
Supporting Sharon as she went back for her master’s in
education
The same place he earned his own master’s degree
Before earning a doctorate in Santa Barbara
in educational psychology
Even studied to be a paralegal,
Letting his daughter tag along,
And later watched her study law.
In the turbulent 70s
Willie found work as a teacher and counselor,
Leading a life of impact
Achieving his dream of fatherhood
Discovering Steven in his 80s
And inviting him to his home
A “Papa Willie” who made sure he told
His granddaughter Nadirah that she was
beautiful.
This is Willie Jeffery.
A man of integrity
A bag o’ funny faces and silly songs
An Uncle “Bub”
A generous big brother
Who grew up singing “Mairzy Doats” with his siblings
A boy who was doted on by his parents, Auntie and
Elenor,
and grew up whistling on an oil lease in Gladewater,
Texas,
Escaped to California in his cousin Benny’s car
After sassing his racist boss
In the segregated south
From a frightened kid in a strange land
To a self-made man
A kind smile
A meaningful hug
A friend who’d show up when you needed him.
A servant of God and of justice
Until July 5, 2023,
His earthly story’s end.
This is Willie Jeffery.
Sorry we missed you this time.
See you on the other side.

- Akilah Jeffery

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Services

Open Viewing
Friday
July 14, 2023

5:00 PM to 7:00 PM
Thompson Rose Chapel
3601 5th Ave.
Sacramento, CA 95817

Funeral Service

New Hope Baptist Church
3700 32nd st
Sacramento, CA 95820

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