Mrs. Willie Mae “Trudy” Phelps Spencer was born in Bovina, Mississippi in Warren County, near the community of Freetown, on June 21, 1925, the daughter of Eliza Amos Phelps and Beatrice “Bat” Phelps. She was the “knee” baby, the little girl, and the third of their four children. Beatrice had 10 additional children whom he raised during his second marriage. Members of her maternal family were landowners in their rural community, where she was raised. Trudy, as her family and friends affectionately called her, was baptized at the age of 11 at the Missionary Baptist Church of Mount Hebron, a small rural church, where her maternal grandfather, Ben Amos, was the son. one of the founders and builders. Trudy remained an active member of Mt. Hebron until its closure in December 2014. She was a member of the choir for decades and a mother of her church from 2010 to 2014. When Mount Hebron closed, Trudy became a member of Mount Heroden Baptist Church in Vicksburg, Mississippi, where she also served as a mother until her earthly transition.
Trudy was educated at a one-room school, Clear Creek School, in “the country,” and at St. Mary’s Catholic High School in Vicksburg, Mississippi, where she graduated in 1944. She continued her studied at Alcorn Agricultural and Mechanical College in Lorman. , Mississippi, and Southern Christian Institute (which merged with Tougaloo College in 1954). After preparing well academically, she earned her Mississippi teacher’s license. Later, Trudy, who was always interested in “hairstyles”, earned her cosmetology license from Mississippi after successfully completing the curriculum at Rosalie’s Beauty School in Vicksburg, which was owned and operated by her cousin. favorite sibling.
Trudy’s first and forever love and best friend was Louis Spencer, Jr., from a young age of 22 and hers of 26. As Vicksburgers, they were both passionate about music and dancing, particularly enjoying rhythm and blues, with a strong connection to the Red Tops Band, of which Trudy’s life partner was a founding member. Trudy and Louis spent their earthly life together in Vicksburg until Louis fell ill in 2009 when they moved to Madison, Mississippi. In 2010, Louis preceded her by joining their Heavenly Father.
A daughter, Gwendolyn, was born to this special union. Gwendolyn married Wesley F. Prater, who became Trudy’s “son” for nearly 53 years. They, along with Trudy’s two grandchildren, Djenaba and Wesley Spencer, and her great-grandchildren, have filled Trudy’s life with immense joy and pride.
As an employee, Trudy remained active in the Vicksburg workforce as a cosmetologist for many years. Trudy was also part of the first incoming group of three African-American female employees of the Westinghouse factory in the Vicksburg area in the early 1960s. She was a co-worker Glady’s grocery store Shopwith her husband Louis.
Trudy was an active member of the American Legion Auxiliary of the Tyner-Ford Post Number 213 in Vicksburg. Trudy also enjoyed old and new friends and was actively engaged with Madison County attendees at the Senior Citizens’ Center in Flora, Mississippi, where she was crowned “Prom Queen” in 2013. For several years, she engaged with Baptist Adult Day Health Services in Jackson, Mississippi. In 2015, during her 90th birthday celebration, she received a commendation from George Flaggs, Mayor of the City of Vicksburg, in recognition of her work and contributions to her community.
Trudy believed in treating people the way she wanted to be treated and continually practiced the Golden Rule in her daily life. She was an exemplary woman of faith, a devoted and devoted wife and a committed and unconditionally loving mother, mother-in-law, grandmother, great-grandmother, sister, aunt, cousin and friend.
On Wednesday, March 16, 2022, Willie Mae “Trudy” Phelps Spencer made his final transition to his Eternal Award at his daughter and son’s home in Madison, Mississippi. Trudy was 96 and the last living child of four children born to Beatrice and Eliza Amos Phelps. Trudy has the blessed distinction of living the most years of a woman on the Amos (maternal) side of her family, and the second oldest person on the Phelps (paternal) side, at the time of her earthly death. She is predeceased by: Her husband, Louis Spencer, Jr.; his parents, Beatrice Phelps and Eliza Amos Phelps Jones; his brothers, Willie “Brother”, “Tip-Toe” “Dit” Phelps, Elijah “Billy” Phelps; and her sister, Rosa Bell, “Sister” Phelps Jones. She is also predeceased by her favorite cousin, Rosalie Nichols Strong; his beloved aunt and uncle, Kenny and Nettie Nichols; and his special aunt, Pearlie Henderson.
Lovingly remembering, rejoicing and cherishing his memory are: His only child, a daughter, Gwendolyn Spencer Prater and son-in-law (law), Wesley F. Prater, Madison, Mississippi; granddaughter, Djenaba Prater, Zachary, Louisiana; grandson, Wesley Spencer Prater (Rhea), Madison, Mississippi; great-grandsons, Aden Prater Swan and Elison Prater Swan, Zachary; great-granddaughters, Baleigh Adams and Lily Claire Prater, Madison; a very special niece and sister of Gwendolyn, Bernadine Rice (Vincent) of Sarasota, Florida; niece, Linda Smith of Vicksburg; niece, Toya Phelps Nix (Tyrone) of San Antonio, TX; nephews, Charles Phelps, Barry Phelps and Sammie Rainey (Janet Sue), all of Vicksburg; brothers, Benson Sims (Frankie), Chicago, Illinois, Louis Phelps (Laverne), Kennesaw, Georgia; William Phelps (Carlene) of Lakeview, Georgia, and Michael Phelps (Patricia) of Vicksburg; sisters, Bobbie Bradford, Chicago, Illinois, Lois Claiborne, Detroit, Michigan; and Willie Jean Davis (Alejandro) of Vicksburg; special grandnieces, Denise Coleman, Houston, Texas; Melissa Rice, Hanover, Maryland, Chandra DeLisa Flowers and Danielle Phelps, Vicksburg; special grandnephews, Lawrence Walker (Trish), Delaware, Ohio; Brian Phelps (Melva), Austin, TX; Derrick Rainey, Sr. (Lisa), Vicksburg; and Darryl Rice, Reston, Virginia. Trudy also leaves behind special cousins, Marshae Henderson, Nettie Rose Ravick and Tangie Amos Neal, and many loving cousins including the Phelps, Amos and Henderson families and other supportive friends and families, especially Hazel Brown (classmate from 1944), Claudette Haggard, Evelyn “Vonn” Hammonds, Phyllis Anthony, and the Lustre, Davis, and McKay families. We loved and honored Trudy during her earthly life, and now we respectfully accept God’s plan and release her, body and soul, to our Almighty God, while our precious memories of Trudy remain in our hearts.
Memorial contributions, in honor of Willie Mae Spencer, may be made to support Drs. Wesley and Gwendolyn Prater Endowed Student Scholarship Fund, Tougaloo College, 500 West County Line Road, Tougaloo, Mississippi 39174.
Visitation will be held Sunday, March 20 at the WH Jefferson Funeral Home from 4-6 p.m. in the funeral home with face coverings worn inside the building. A private burial ceremony will take place at a later date.