By Sandy McCall
Many of you may remember reading a piece I wrote in June of 2010 called “Daddy.” He was also known by his family as “Pape” but for me, he was Daddy.
Daddy was born at Bald Creek on Bald Mountain in Yancey County, NC, on March 22, 1906. He made his transition from this earth on March 18, 2013 just a few days shy of his 107th birthday. And if just staying on this planet 107 years wasn’t enough, he also blessed all who knew him with his “extra”ordinary presence. What an incredible life he had as his daughter, Fatimah Rashida Shabazz of Asheville, and others will testify to.
Daddy was no ordinary man. He was a true entrepreneur and humanitarian, owning a significant number of properties that he rented or sold to people in need. He also worked as a cook at the VA hospital at a time black men were not allowed to look at or speak to white women; yet he found a way to communicate with his female co-workers. Daddy was an avid gardener and reminded me of his gardening plans just before he passed away! I know he is gardening in heaven now!
Levie was married to Mary Jane Catherine Haynes for 77 years. When Mary finished her teacher’s training and needed a job, Daddy was instrumental in helping her find a teaching job at the Anderson School in Mars Hill.
The Anderson School in Mars Hill was one of many schools opened by the Rosenwald family and designed to give African-American children an education when no schools were available to them. Today there is a Mars Hill initiative as part of a nationwide movement to preserve the Rosenwald Schools. Watch for more on this in a future issue.
Daddy shared an understanding of life that included acceptance of the human condition and a loving heart for all he encountered. He was forgiving of others’ mistakes and always ended conversations by saying “It’ll be all right,” and HE MEANT IT. I visited with him a few weeks before he died and he greeted me with his loving smile that will always be imprinted on my heart.
It was an honor for me to know Levie Wilson for 17 years and he truly was the most incredible man I have ever known. Daddy, you are missed by many, but never forgotten.
Sandy McCall’s day job is working as the Broker/Owner of Southern Life Realty. When she’s not cooking or loving-up her cat and dogs, she enjoys writing for WNC Woman and volunteering for Madison Habitat for Humanities and Manna Food Bank. You can reach her at Sandy@SouthernLifeRealty.com or 828-273-9755.