Vera G. Anderson
Beloved matriarch, proud Jamaican native, devout Episcopalian
Vera G. Anderson died February 10, a month shy of her 97th birthday. She was born Vera Gertrude Norman to her parents Iris and Alfred in St. Ann Parish, Jamaica, West Indies, in 1924.
Vera moved to Detroit, Michigan at the age of 19 to attend what is now the University of Detroit. As was customary in the culture from which she came, she stayed with family, her maternal grandfather known as “Gramps,” who owned apartments in an area of Detroit known as “Black Bottom.”
Through associations in the West Indian American Association of Detroit, she met and married Douglas V. Anderson, who predeceased her two years ago. She and Douglas were married for more than 70 years. They had three children: Mike, who predeceased his parents, David and Sharon (Spring).
“Vera ‘paid it forward’ by bringing three of our cousins from Jamaica, Molly, Eleanor and Idolly (Id) to Detroit to live with us in order to further their education,” her family recalled.
She worked tirelessly to provide for her family, working in several service related fields, including as a hairdresser, notary public, and a sales associate for the Dayton Hudson Corporation, from where she retired 20 years ago, all while raising her family.
During retirement she spent time with her husband, children, grandchildren and dear friends, including her “sisters” Norma and Bridgett, among others. The family moved from Detroit to a nearby suburb, the Charter Township of Royal Oak, where she helped Mr. Anderson lead the city as supervisor.
The Episcopal Church played a huge part of her life. She was an avid volunteer on every level, including as a Boy Scout den mother and troop leader, a member of her “Red Hat” charity group. Early on she served as the recording secretary for the West Indian American Association.
Her passion however was being a member of the choir at various Detroit churches, including Grace Episcopal, St. Timothy’s and finally, All Saint’s Episcopal.
“She had a wonderful voice and a tremendous ear for the hymns that comforted our lives,” her family shared. “On the day of her last rites, her final utterances were an attempt to join in on the hymns being played to her in the hospital.”
She loved to travel, to Alaska, England, Mexico and Canada, among other places, but she especially enjoyed visiting her birthplace, Jamaica, where she relished seeing her dear aunt Edith, who helped raise and nurture her.
She would constantly remind all those who would listen about the virtues of island life: the sea, the gardens, the music, and especially the people. She would frequently repeat the sayings from the “old country,” such as, “Rehash good memories because the bad ones rehash themselves.”
After visiting family in Claremont for years, “we were able to wrestle them away from Detroit to live with and near her two surviving children,” her family said.
With her engaging manner, the couple thrived in Claremont, making friends, attending St. Luke’s Lutheran and St. Ambrose Episcopal churches, and instilling in all with whom she interacted a goal to visit her beloved Jamaica.
“As a parent Vera excelled at what may be the most important of life's goals: to raise a family with love, a sense of responsibility, pride of heritage, and focus on being the best person that one can be in order to point the way for the generations to come,” her family shared.
She is survived by her children David and Sharon; grandchildren Michael, Lee, Adam, Ali and Naomi; and her “great-grands,” Micah, Jonathan and Adie.
“Her legacy is the knowledge of family as a tool for survival,” her family said. “Her often repeated mantra in the waning days of her life was, ‘Where’s Douglas?’ They can now rest in peace together again.”
A private graveside service will be held at 10 a.m. Friday, April 9 at Oak Park Cemetery in Claremont.
In lieu of flowers the family suggests donations in Ms. Anderson’s name to St. Ambrose Church at https://www.stambroseclaremont.org/giving; All Saint’s Episcopal Church of Detroit at
https://www.allsaintsdetroit.org/giving/; her granddaughter’s project, Feed Black Futures, at https://feedblackfutures.org; the West Indian American Association at http://wiaami.org/about.php; or The United Negro College Fund at https://uncf.org, click “donate.”