Homegoing Celebration for Mrs. Willie Mae Shirley

Mrs. Willie Mae Davis Shirley was known as the matriarch of the Washington Addition community.

Below you will find reflections from her family. In addition to the reflections, Mrs. Shirley also had an opportunity to share her life story on camera last year and the video is below.

Reflections by her family

Willie Mae Davis Shirley’s (Mama Shirley) Godly Journey began on June 16, 1923 and ended on September 8, 2017 when she achieved her life’s dream – To Meet God Face to Face. In that Heavenly Place, she joined her husband of 60 years Mr. Willie Shirley, her parents, Peter and Annie Davis, her brother George Davis, two sons, George Earl and Earnest, a daughter, Prince Ella, a grandson Terrance and a host of other family members.

Mama Shirley was reared in Jackson, Mississippi in the house that her father built – 1722 Everett Avenue (now Shirley Avenue) and she lived. Her love for her family, her extended family of friends and neighbors and community was evident to all. She lived, worshiped, and enthusiastically served her community for years, practically up to day that she was called home.

Mama Shirley attended and graduated from Jackson College Grammar School in 1934 where her report cards, still maintained by her children, reflect A’s and B’s. Mama Shirley attended Lanier High School and graduated in 1941. From there, Mama Shirley started a Kinder Garden School for the children of the Gowdy/Washington Addition community.

Mama Shirley joined College Hill Missionary Baptist Church at an early age. She raised her children in College Hill Church and performed dutifully as a loyal servant of God. From this station in life she became well known as the “Mother that Prays for Me”. Her reputation as a prayer giver that gets results began around that time in her life. From that point in time, she literally prayed for thousands of people from around the Country, many with critical illnesses that were overcome.

Mama Shirley was a devoted community-minded purveyor of progress in Washington Addition. For many years Mama Shirley was the Treasurer, Vice-President and President (on and off) of the Washington Addition Neighborhood Association. She secured $15,000 dollars to purchase the “Neighborhood House” on Booker Street, she secured the old Smith Grocery Store building on Jones Street to be used for the Associations work.

Because of her devotion to Washington Addition, Mama Shirley was appointed to several State boards, one of which being state weatherization board where she received two awards from the Governor of Mississippi. Mama Shirley was heavily involved in local Washington Addition politics where she operated the precinct 63 voting polls for years. Mama Shirley helped to elect many of the politicians that are in office today.

Mama Shirley was a long- time member of the Eastern Star Heroines of Jericho #704. With the help of the Heroines of Jericho, The Washington Addition Neighborhood Association and friends and family she spear-headed the re-naming of Everett Avenue to Shirley Avenue as a memorial to her late husband Willie Shirley.

Mama Shirley was also crowned the Jackson State University Senior Homecoming Queen as she was a member of the Jackson State University School of Lifelong Learning-Senior College.


Mama Shirley’s legacy continues to sustain and inspire her family and friends. This includes her children; Ethel Jean (Johnnie), Charles (LaCarnya), Will (Tawnya), Alvin (Linda) and Demetris, all of Jackson, Mississippi and the many friends and family that knew her.

About Jackson State University, Center for University-Based Development (922 Articles)
We blog about things that are absolutely, positively West Jackson (Mississippi).

2 Comments on Homegoing Celebration for Mrs. Willie Mae Shirley

  1. Carroll K Frazier // September 15, 2017 at 4:09 pm // Reply

    Mrs. Shirley had a beautiful loving God fearing spirit. She will truly be missed.
    Thank you Heather for sharing these precious memories of Mama Shirley.

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