Vera Jean McNeil, affectionately known by her family and close friends as Jean, was born January 3, 1950 in Somerville, Tennessee to John and Nettie McNeil. She was the youngest of five siblings. At the age of 11, Vera’s mother died in a tragic accident. After the accident, she moved to Cleveland, Ohio to live with her eldest sister and family.
In 1968, Vera graduated from Glenville High School. The next year, while working at the salad bar at the Beef House Restaurant, she met the love of her life, a busboy named Willie Lewis Sumlin. They married on January 17, 1970 and happily welcomed three children: Willie Lewis Jr., Eugene Lorin, and Chenita Louise. Willie and Vera were also loving foster parents, helping to raise 10 little girls over 10 years.
Vera accepted Jesus as her Lord and Savior at Hayes Temple Church in God in Christ, under the late Elder J.W. Hayes. She faithfully served the Lord and His people for 50 years. Over the course of those years, Vera served as a Sunday School teacher, a Youth Department leader, the church’s financial secretary, a church bus driver, a Hospitality Committee member, the District Sewing Circle President member, and many other roles to support the church and advance the Kingdom of God.
She truly lived a life of service. Vera held many jobs to help support her family over the years. With every position, she always made sure that she had time for her children and grandchildren. Additionally, God was able to use her heart of service to share the love of Christ and to lead people to salvation in these settings. In 2011, she retired as a librarian page for the Cleveland Heights/University Heights Public Library, opening the door for her to spend more time with her family and to dive deeper into her passion--sewing.
Even as she faced challenges in her health, Vera still thought of others first and served to the very best of her ability. On August 30, just before 6:30 am, God told her “Well done; now it is time for you to rest.” Preceding her in death are her parents, John and Nettie McNeil, Johnnie Hubbard McNeil (brother) Mary Lue McNeil (sister) and granddaughter, Kiana Monique Sumlin.
Vera leaves to cherish her memories: her husband of 50 years, Willie Lewis; her children, Willie Lewis Jr (Octavia), Eugene Lorin (Nicole) and Chenita Young (Brandon Sr.); six grandchildren, Konstance, Kandance, Easton, August, Leyla and Brandon, Jr.; two sisters, Irma Price (Earnest Sr.), Mary Anne Barton, her “adopted” babies LeMarr Williams, Aaron Markowitz, and Leah Markowitz, along with many nieces, nephews, great-nieces, great-nephews, cousins, friends, as well as her beloved Eddie.
But do not forget to do good and share, for with such sacrifices God is well pleased.
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