Willena Mae Latapie Cherry of Baytown passed away peacefully in her home on Tuesday, December 28, 2021. Willena was born May 21, 1928 in Goose Creek, Texas. She was the only child of Ambrose Henry and Velma Willena Akins Latapie. She married James Ivy Cherry on Valentine’s Day in 1948 at First Christian Church in Baytown. Willena loved her church. She taught Sunday school classes, worked with vacation Bible school, chaired the Membership Committee, and served as an elder for many years. Her friends at First Christian were very special to her.
She was a shy child, so her parents enrolled her in expression lessons. She quickly came out of her shell and took up tap and ballet lessons. She loved to dance and was known to “Shuffle Off to Buffalo” well into her 80’s. She played the saxophone in the Horace Mann and Robert E Lee HS band where she was the 1st Lt. President and band sweetheart. She was offered a music scholarship to Sam Houston University, which she turned down to stay at home and work to help out her mom.
She attended Lee College, then in 1948, she went to work for Humble Oil for 6 years. In September 1963, she went to work for GCCISD as a secretary. At the end of that year, the GCCISD school board voted for a second high school, Ross S Sterling, and appointed Winnie Brown as principal. Mrs. Brown expressed her request to the board that Willena work alongside her with the architect in planning of the new school and be her secretary. Willena worked for GCCISD for 25 years as Secretary and Registrar. She loved her time there, being close to her children and their friends. The Sterling secretaries were the best of friends and continued to meet monthly for lunch after retirement and traveled together for many years.
Willena spent her retirement years traveling with her husband, James, and enjoying her grandchildren and great-grandchildren. She was a loving Grammy and her grandchildren and great-grandchildren brought her so much joy. These years were some of the happiest of her life.
Willena was preceded in death by her parents, Ambrose and Velma Latapie, her husband, James Cherry, her grandmother, Ella Jane Akins, and her sister-in-law, Betty Rochelle.
Willena is survived by her children, Ric Cherry (and wife Theresa), Cheryl Conley, and Jimmie Cherry; her grandchildren, Michel Cherry (and wife Summer), Lauren Hazard (and husband Kevin), and Ryan Conley; and her great-grandchildren, Connor and Asher Hazard.
A Celebration of Life will be held on the grounds at First Christian Church, Saturday, January 8 from 1:30 - 3:30 pm.
In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to First Christian Church 201 Forrest St, Baytown, TX 77520.
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First Christian Church
201 Forest St, Baytown TX 77520