Velma Partlow was born in Pickens County, Easley, SC on July 15, 1929 to Willie and Mary Alice (Mersier) Partlow. Velma was the second to the youngest of six children (Jesse, Willie Mae, Selma, Governor, Velma and Russie), and the last one to be called home. Velma was educated in the Easley Public Schools. She attended Simpson High school, a segregated public school where students matriculated through from 1st to 12th grade. As a child she joined and regularly attended Easley Union Baptist Church, where she was baptized at the early age of 12. She served in the choir ministry. She met George Washington Smith affectionately referred to as “Baby Boy” in 1949 and on December 10 of the same year, they were married. Velma was 20 years old and was a mere 86 lbs., at the time. The following year in 1950 their first born, George Washington Jr. was born. Two years later in 1952, their second born, Randy Vonnell was born. The next year in 1953 George and Velma family moved to Springfield, Massachusetts in search of better job opportunities. Between 1954 and 1958 Darren Maurice, Tony Sylvester and Alfred Kenneth were born. (Darren and Tony were only 10 months apart) and she nearly died after delivering Darren when she was diagnosed with spinal meningitis as a result of receiving a spinal tap. Then, a family of seven, George and Velma moved their growing family with five boys to their existing home on 41 Oak Grove Avenue in 1958. In between 1960 and 1966, their 3 daughters, Felicia Ann, Theresa Ann and Andrea Marie were born. Velma was a stay at home mom until the girls were as she puts it “a pretty good size.” She went to work when Andrea was 5 years old doing seasonal work for Sunshine Art Studio, packing Christmas cards. Later, she took a part time job at Ring Nursing Home. She worked there for the next 25 years before she retired in 1995 at the age of 66. The same year her youngest daughter, Andrea, died and George and Velma formally took on the full responsibility of raising Andrea’s son and their grandson, Kevin. On Dec 10, 1999, George and Velma reached the milestone of 50 years of marriage. They returned to Easley, SC to celebrate their golden anniversary (a few months earlier) with their family and friends. On Oct 10, 2016, the Lord called George home, just two months shy of celebrating their 67th year of marriage. Velma was a devoted mother who raised eight children and one grandchild from birth without any help while her husband worked two jobs. They raised their children with good old-fashion Christian values, encouraged them to get a good education and modeled a strong work ethic in front of them. Although she would tell you she did not like to cook, she was an excellent cook. In fact, she showed her love through her cooking. She was famous for her coconut cake and baked macaroni and cheese. Acts of service was her love language. She was in her glory when she was surrounded by her children, grandchildren, extended family and friends laughing, talking and enjoying a good meal that she had prepared. Preparing these meals was a labor of love for her. She often did so while listening to radio ministries. As a little girl, she made “mud” pies with friends and as a teen she liked to go to the soda shop and the picture show. As an adult one of her favorite past times was hosting socials where she would play Pokeno with friends. In her twilight years, she enjoyed playing Bingo so much so that she usually played with two cards. Her competitiveness earned her numerous prizes and a personalized t-shirt that reads, “Velma is my name, and Bingo is my Game.” She also enjoyed shopping at thrift stores, flea markets and the occasional tag sale. Velma spent the final three years of her life at the Loomis Lakeside at Reeds Landing Skilled Nursing facility. She enjoyed the comradery with other seniors and she participated in many activities including the bell choir. Velma’s stood in the gap for her family and friends. She was whatever they needed her to be in the moment from someone who would offer them something to eat, a place to stay, a shoulder to cry on, an ear to listen, an encouraging word or a heartfelt prayer. She would say “if you can help someone you should” and “God wants us to share one another’s burdens.” Velma loved the Lord and she never tired of telling people of his goodness and saving grace in the hopes that they would come to know Him for themselves. She did not want to see any one left behind. She believed that everyone is a child of God and she would say “God does not make mistakes.” She truly believed in forgiveness and believed everyone has value no matter their faults or mistakes. She offered unconditional love and did so completely until she transitioned from life on March 9, 2020. Velma left a lasting legacy of quiet strength, unconditional love, forgiveness, faithfulness and generosity that will endure forever.
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