Miss. relatives attend; mother reflects
By Gail M. Brown
Friends, fans, celebrities and relatives were saddened in mid June by the loss of 1990’s “Moesha” sitcom co-star Yvette Wilson. She died of cervical cancer at 48.
However, “sadness” was not what the actress/comedienne wanted surrounding her departure, her mother Thelma Randall McDonald told The Mississippi Link via telephone from her Las Vegas home. “Yvette had prepared us for this.”
“She left specific instructions that she did not want a funeral; she did not want sadness; she wanted a party,” McDonald, a Mississippi native, said. “She said, ‘I don’t want people crying, I want them to celebrate.’” According to family, Wilson had planned everything in advance, including the party’s menu.
And a party it was, The Mississippi Link has learned. During Independence Day weekend, June 30, at 4 p.m., the “memorial party” was held with roughly 300 people packed into the Regency West in the Crenshaw District of Los Angeles. “It was held at the place where she first started out in comedy,” cousin Rose Berry of Jackson told The Mississippi Link. She was one of seven Mississippi relatives attending the event.
“It was so nice, so lively. A picture of Yvette was on each table,” she said. Wilson’s sister Rosalind Burns had also coordinated, with the help of a friend, a collage of pictures of Wilson to display at the celebration.Berry, who has been told she resembles her Hollywood cousin, said one lady came up to her, hugged her and said, “Forgive me for starring, but Yvette’s spirit is here in this room.”
Berry’s mother, Wilson’s aunt Monzola Ross of Cruger, Miss., said she was so grateful God blessed them to drive safely to California. “My sister was so glad to see us. We met and took pictures with so many of the celebrities who knew Yvette.”
Among the speakers, according to relatives, were Mark Curry of “Hanging with Mr. Cooper,” Dorien Wilson and Ken Lawson of “The Parkers,” “Moesha’s” star Brandy and her brother entertainer Ray J, Countess Vaughn of “The Parkers,” Shar Jackson of “Moesha” and others.
The celebration was coordinated with the help of Wilson’s best friend since third-grade, Eileen of Texas and Wilson’s first manager/producer Marcus King. Eileen, according to McDonald, was the donor who gave Wilson a kidney.
Cousin Clara Ware, also of Cruger, Miss. said, “It was filled with laughter. Everyone talked about how helpful Yvette was. I can attest to that, because she helped me when my father (her uncle) died. I wanted to get up and share that, but I knew I would cry.”
Ware said a recurring comment made was that Wilson did not accept “no” for an answer. “They said if something could not be done one way, she would find another way,” Ware said.
The youngest of three siblings, McDonald said her “baby” has always been an “independent child with a great sense of humor and a giving heart.” Even in grade-school she said Wilson would bring kids home with her and say things like, ‘Mama, can they stay with us?’ ‘They don’t have enough food,’ or ‘Her mama is mean to her.’ “She literally gave until it hurt,” McDonald said.
Her mother said Wilson had been sick a long time with other health conditions as well, but the cancer is what impacted her most. “She did not want a lot of people to know that she was ill,” she said. “One time, she did not want her friend Jamie [Foxx] or anyone to know which hospital she was in, but he found her.” She said Wilson was concerned about how she looked, but she kept working and pushing forward.
Also a woman of faith, Wilson attended an all-denominational church. “She attended until she could not. Then she would watch the services on television,” her mother explained. “She never complained about her illness; she remained hopeful. She still wanted to help people. Her friends had to beg her permission to set up that fund on her behalf. They told her, ‘you are always helping others; let people help you now.’ That was the only way she gave in to them.
“She had just told me about three weeks before she died: ‘I’m going to the family reunion with you, mama.’” Wilson loved the family gatherings in Mississippi. In fact, the last time she visited was for her mother’s big birthday bash held in the state five years ago. The upcoming family reunion is scheduled for Labor Day weekend, Sept. 1, in Holmes County, Miss. Her mother, sister and other West Coast relatives are planning to attend.
“I know my sister is in a better place,” said Wilson’s brother Henry Wilson, also of Las Vegas.
By her own wishes, Wilson was cremated. She is survived by two adult daughters, two grandsons, her mother, sister and brother, and a clan of other relatives from coast to coast.