Celebration Of Life
Mary Elizabeth Snowden was born 9 December 1920 in Creswell, Washington County, North Carolina to Levin and Hanna Marie (Purnell) Snowden. She was the eldest daughter of thirteen children. The family eventually moved to Princess Anne County, Virginia Beach, VA. There Mary, “Mae”, met and married the love of her life, William H. Basnight on 1 October 1938. Their union was blessed with seven children. However, only three daughters survived. The little family lost their beloved husband and father in November 1966. Mary eventually married a second “William”, William V. Whitehurst, on 4 July 1981. She was again widowed July 2002.
Mary (Mae) spent her life in service to the people she loved. Her service began early as the oldest daughter in an ever increasing household. One of her earliest memories was of cooking her first Christmas dinner alone at about age ten. When asked why she cooked an entire Christmas dinner alone at such a young age she said she didn't know. It was later learned that it was because her baby sister, Claudia, had been born just a couple of days earlier.
Mary continued to serve her family in any way she could her entire life. She was a mother and caregiver to her siblings and their children when needed; her sister-in-law, her mother and her husband until they crossed over. She raised her three daughters and one of her nieces as a daughter and continued to nurture and teach them and their children until she was no longer able to do so. She shared her knowledge and skills freely with anyone and everyone. Even her employment was one of service. She worked as a cook and food-server for Norfolk City Public Schools until retirement.
Mary did not believe in being idle. She was a woman of many talents. One of her greatest joys was cooking,...old school cooking! She was a master in the kitchen!!! Everything she made was from scratch, yeast rolls to biscuits to pie crusts to cakes and cornbread. She even made her frostings and meringues. She was always trying new recipes. We grew up with homemade preserves and fresh baked bread and three freshly cooked meals a day, plus dessert, seven days a week. She also enjoyed sewing, crocheting, fishing and dominoes. She LOVED her plants and could make a splinter grow!
The Lord was always foremost in her life and she taught her children faith and to pray from an early age. Wherever she lived she affiliated herself with a home church; the last being Antioch Baptist Church in Berkley, where she served in the choir and the pastor's aide club.
Mary was predeceased by her parents (Levin and Hanna), seven brothers, Levin (Bro) Jr, William (Bill), Walter, Charlie, Robert, Samuel, and Curl (Dick); two sisters Thelma Snowden and Sarah Reid Riddick.
Mary is survived by four daughters, Dorothy M. Basnight Lynch (M. Henry), Mary E. Basnight, Jacqueline L. Gregory (Luculus), and Vernice Hankins (Dwight); six grandchildren, Candis Johnson, William H. Basnight, Marvin H. Basnight, LaVenka S. Basnight, Mary E. Basnight, and William A. Basnight; three sisters, Claudia Cason, Rosa M. Snowden, and Gladys Johnson. Mary also leaves two great-nephews, Emanuel Johnson and Jermaine Johnson, seen as grandchildren; eleven great-grandchildren, and a host of nieces, nephews and extended family and friends to cherish her memory.