Evelyn V. Walker

Published 5:09 pm Thursday, January 14, 2021

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Mrs. Mary Evelyn Woodruff Valentine Walker, 91, formerly of South Sixth Street, said farewell to a blessed and loving earthly life and went to her Heavenly home on Jan. 11, 2021. Her love for life did not come to an end with her earthly death. Her loving heart left a beacon of light for her family and all who knew her. 

A native of Capron, Va. in Southhampton County, she was born on Nov. 19, 1929, to the late Robert Lee Woodruff Sr. and Daisy Joyner Woodruff. She was the oldest of three children. Raised in a home that honored and glorified God, she was a 76-year member of East End Baptist Church where she served as a pianist for Sunday School, enjoyed singing in the choir and served on numerous committees, including the Health Ministry. She was an active member until her eyesight and health began to present challenges. 

Known as Evelyn, she was a licensed beautician and pursued the field of nursing. She was a graduate of the first African American graduating class of the Louise Obici Memorial Hospital LPN School, which was also the second graduating class for the LPN School. She worked diligently at the Louise Obici Memorial Hospital for 34 years, beginning on South Wing (Black Ward) under the charge nurse, Mrs. Katie Bass. She enjoyed the field of nursing, caring for others, forming lifetime friendships, working with physicians and identifying her favorites to care for her. After retirement from Obici, she began to work part-time at Autumn Care of Suffolk. She was an active member of the LaMercetts until her illness.

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A 1948 graduate of East Suffolk High School, she married Edward “Ed” Valentine in 1953 and he preceded her in death in 1958 as a result of a fatal car accident. In 1986, she married William “Chic” Walker, Sr. who preceded her in death in May 2007, after which time she relocated to Portsmouth to live with her daughter and son-in-law. 

Evelyn is survived by her loving daughter and son-in-law, Gail V. and Alexander “AB” Bess Jr., of Portsmouth; three grandchildren, Derrick L. Bess and his wife, Paula of Cypress, Texas; Kiana D. Bess of Ann Arbor, Mich.; and Alexander Bess III of Houston, Texas; four great-grandsons, Jacari, Tyler, Jaylen, and Jerrick of Cypress, Texas; a host of nieces, nephews, and cousins extending to three generations; additional relatives and friends; two loving and caring friends and caregivers, Catherine Randolph and Fannie Bowers; nieces and nephew who assisted with her care, Andrea Hill, Braje Hill, Connie and Dennis Hill Sr.; Dr. William Jackson; and her personal chef, Mary Bess Riddick.

She was preceded in death by her brother and sister-in-law, Robert Lee Woodruff, Jr. (2012) and Jean Elizabeth Woodruff (2005); her sister and brother-in-law, Ruth Elizabeth Woodruff Outlaw (2019) and James Edward Outlaw (2011); her grandson, Brian Antoine Bess (2020); and her nephews Reginald L. Woodruff Sr (2019) and Joe H. Cooper Jr. (2017); all of whom she loved dearly and talked about often.

Her grandchildren loved their Grams/Grandma for her kind and giving heart, funny stories of the past, ways around the kitchen, and her incomparable wit. She had the ability to make you laugh, even when it was not her intention. Growing up, her grandchildren were always amazed at how she had an eye for seeing the world through the eyes of a child which was evident in the way she transformed her home and yard into a Winter Wonderland during the Christmas season. The special gatherings in her home were the best. Her grandchildren were most proud to see her leave for work in her nurse’s uniform because they knew she would care for others the way she did for her family. 

A viewing will be held from noon to 4 p.m. Monday, Jan. 18, at Harris Funeral Home, 685 Carolina Road. A Remembering Her Spirit celebration service will be held at noon on Tuesday, Jan. 19, at East End Baptist Church, 1056 Portsmouth Boulevard. A viewing will begin at 11 a.m. Services will conclude with the burial of her earthly body at Carver Memorial Cemetery. Professional services with honor and respect have been entrusted to Harris Funeral Home. Condolences may be sent to the family at www.vharrisfuneralhome.com