Memphis, Tenn. (6.17.13) Mrs. Rowena H. Whiting, who bought Memphis musician Kenny DeWalt his first trombone and foresaw his success nationally when he was a beginning musician, has died. She was 82.
She died Sunday of respiratory failure at Baptist Memorial Hospital, according to Regina Burns, one of her daughters.
DeWalt, who has played for numerous stars including “Johnny Taylor, The Temptations, The Bar-Kays (plus) Al Green and recorded with Mary J. Blige,” said when his aunt told him he would be on “The Tonight Show” he laughed. But years later in 2003, he called her from California after he played for Al Green on “The Tonight Show with Jay Leno.”
Services Tuesday (6.18.13) will be held at Mississippi Boulevard Christian Church, 70 N. Bellevue Blvd. Visitation is scheduled for 4 p.m. with the funeral starting at 5 p.m. Burial is scheduled at 10 a.m. Wednesday (6.19.13) at New Park Cemetery, 4536 Horn Lake Road.
Mrs. Whiting was the former wife of the late Prince Whiting Jr. In addition to Burns, her children are Darryl A. Whiting Sr. of Jacksonville, Fla. and Marla Whiting of Memphis. Derrick A. Whiting Sr. predeceased her in 2004 at age 41.
Mrs. Whiting formerly worked at the then-Armour Packing Co. Her late parents, Alon Etta Vaughn-Hooks and John Hooks, were sharecroppers in Clarkedale, Ark., where she was born. Her siblings included Daisy Tanner, Rosemary DeWalt and a brother, who each predeceased her.
She leaves eight grandchildren: Derrick A. Whiting Jr., Tolissia Whiting, Joshua D. Whiting, Zephaniah D. Whiting, London Pierce, LaDarius Pierce, Darryl Whiting Jr. and Darius Whiting. Granddaughter Daphne Whiting predeceased her.
The following is an excerpt from a May 9, 1993 column I wrote entitled "Lessons from the Book of Mom" for The Commercial Appeal, (c) The E.W. Scripps Co., reprinted here in observance of Ma Dear's birthday.
There are a lot of ways for me to note what my mother, [Mrs.] Rowena H. Whiting, means to me. I would like to focus on some of the lessons she taught me.
My mother, who always wanted to be an English teacher, has spent a lot of time teaching my sister, my [one has passed] two brothers and me the importance of correct grammar and proper pronunciation.
A frequent early-childhood refrain I can still hear is: "Regina, it's not 'show is,' it's 'sure is.' This is one of those reminders that frankly became irritating to me, but of course, that never stopped Ma Dear, as we call her. She wanted to make sure that her children did not embarrass her or themselves with poor speaking skills. ...
My mom is one of the world's best cooks when it comes to collard and turnip greens--my all-time favorite food. We grew up on the stuff, along with other Southern fare. She tells us the story often about me being sick with pharyngitis (inflammation of the pharynx) when I was 24 months old. I was placed in [the-then] Le Bonheur Children's Medical Center with a fever that hovered between 102 and 105 degrees. After numerous efforts to help me get better, the doctors gave up on me.
Mom asked a friend to pray for me, and I gradually recovered. She says as my appetite returned, I got a craving for greens and spaghetti. Also at the hospital was a couple with a sick child. The man was kind enough to go out into the night and buy this food. Mother says my recovery was a "miracle from God."
Did I tell you about the time she got my foot out of the pickle jar, or about the time she saved my arm after it got caught in the washing machine?
I am so thankful my mom is still around, that she passed on many lessons, and that I obeyed most of them.
About the Author:
Regina L. Burns, M.A., Project+, is an award-winning multimedia editor and journalist, specializing in Black history and African American stories at Harvest Reapers Communications. Her work has been published in Texas Highways magazine, WFAA-TV, The Dallas Morning News, the Fort Worth Star-Telegram as well as The Commercial Appeal, the Tri-State Defender and The Flyer, among others.