On January 23, 1930 God planted a beautiful rose in the Garden of Life named Willa Ann. He plucked his beautiful rose January 4, 2021. Willa Ann was the second of four children born to loving parents, Russell Dabney, Sr., and Hazel Jefferson Dabney.
Willa Ann was educated in Kanawha County schools and graduated from Garnet High School in 1947. Her collegiate career was at Bluefield State College where she majored in Art and graduated in 1951. Willa Ann also met her future husband, Alvin Leonard while at college.
Willa Ann married Alvin Leonard April 1, 1956 and to this union three of her heartbeats were born. Felicia, Durwin and Alisa. She gained a stepson, Alvin Jr., from this union also. Willa Ann’s dedication and love for her family were of the highest importance to her. There was nothing that she would not do for them. Willa Ann was an excellent cook, seamstress and loved all things related to home management and fashion.
Willa Ann taught art classes in Detroit, Michigan in the late 1950’s before returning to Charleston to teach at various schools, ending with Riverview Elementary School. She gained employment at the West Virginia University Extension Program as a nutritionist where she taught mothers how to prepare nutritious meals on a budget. After retiring from the university, Willa Ann worked for Kanawha County schools as a substitute teacher until her retirement in 2010.
Willa Ann followed her mother into the Phi Delta Kappa sorority where she was an active member. She found joy in recruiting new members into the sisterhood, giving advice and recipes until her health began to decline.
Willa Ann was known as a “neighborhood mama” and was a low-key member of the neighborhood watch because she loved her community. She never met a stranger and accepted everyone for who and what they were without judgement. The fragrance of her love will forever remain in the memory of those who knew her.
Willa Ann was preceded in death by her parents, husband, Alvin Leonard, sister, Zemoria Higginbotham, brother, Russell Dabney, Jr., and stepson, Alvin Leonard, Jr.
Willa Ann leaves to cherish her memory, daughters, Felicia (Larry deceased), Ellicott City, Maryland, and Alisa “Sue” Leonard, Charleston, WV, son, Durwin “Red” (Lena), Charleston, WV, sister, Irene Terry, Charleston, WV, granddaughters, Maria, Maliyah, and Janashia, all of North Carolina, grandsons, Derrick (Katina), Maryland, Donovan (Deana), Georgia and Jamal, Charleston, WV, nine great grandsons, two great granddaughters and a host of nieces, nephews, neighbors, and friends.
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