Willie Cleveland

Willie Lee Clinton Cleveland, 89, of Cleveland, died Jan. 29, 2019. A service in her honor is planned for Saturday, Feb. 9, 10 a.m., at the C.C. Driver Revival Center, 805 Sam Wiley Dr., Cleveland.

On Dec. 15, 1929, a beautiful, precious baby girl was born to Willie and Mollie Cleveland in Cleveland, Texas. they named her Willie Lee.

She was valedictorian of the Class of 1945 at the Cleveland Colored School, which later was named Frederick Douglass School and more recently Douglass Learning Academy. She also attended Dixon High in Shepherd, Texas.

She later met and married Mozel Cleveland Sr., her childhood sweetheart, on Jan. 26, 1947, and to this union were born five children – Carol, Mozel Jr., LaRuth, Effie and Frances.

Willie Lee completed the requirements for graduation from the Hamilton Beauty School in Beaumont, Texas, in June 1953. A lifelong dream had come true, so she named her business “Sweet Dream Beauty Shop.”

Willie Lee was a very determined person and was known as a jack of all trades. She earned a certificate in floral arrangement and cake decorating, which resulted in her being sometimes called the “Pie Lady.”

She was a spiritual pianist and singer, and was the musician at St. Paul Baptist Church in Rayburn, Texas, where Rev. Morris Brooks is pastor. Willie Lee was a member of New Bethel Baptist Church in Cleveland, which is under the direction of Rev. Travis Hulett. Until her death, she was an active member of the church since the age of 17.

Willie Lee is preceded in death by her husband of 71 years, Mozel Cleveland Sr.; parents, Willie and Mollie Clinton West; brother, Emory “Billy” Clinton; and two sisters, Johnnie Mae Ball and Rosie Lee Humphrey.

Left to cherish her memory are her children, Carol Lee, Mozel “Duke” Cleveland Jr. and his wife Glender, LaRuth Ross and her husband James, Effir Johnson and her husband Alexander, and Francis Jack and her husband Ervin; a host of grandchildren, great-grandchildren and great-great-grandchildren. Special children are Artis Moody Allen, Larry and Spanky Holston, the St. Paul church family, and Rev. and Sis. Owens.

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Before creating Bluebonnet News in 2018, Vanesa Brashier was a community editor for the Houston Chronicle/Houston Community Newspapers. During part of her 12 years at the newspapers, she was assigned as the digital editor and managing editor for the Humble Observer, Kingwood Observer, East Montgomery County Observer and the Lake Houston Observer, and the editor of the Dayton News, Cleveland Advocate and Eastex Advocate. Over the years, she has earned more than two dozen writing awards, including Journalist of the Year.

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