Remembering the Life of Annie Mildred Vance
Annie Mildred Vance was born November 20, 1928, to Frank Sykes and Susie Lee Vinson in Decatur, Alabama. She was one of the many granddaughters named as her grandmother’s namesake. Because there were so many granddaughters named Annie, she preferred to go by Annie Mildred or just Mildred. Mildred, being the eldest of three children, was a leader in own right.
Her Early Years
In her early years, she enjoyed spending time with her family, especially her grandmother, Annie Vinson, and her uncles Nathaniel "Buck", Obie, Willard, and Samuel. She would recall her monthly visits “downtown” with her grandmother to buy a new pair of shoes every trip. She would always quote her grandmother, Annie, saying, “In life, you may get some briars in your feet, but pull them out and keep on stepping.” It would be her grandmother who would ensure that she was in church every Sunday. At the young age of 12, she accepted Jesus Christ as her personal Lord and Savior during a revival at First Baptist Church in Decatur, Alabama.
Her Adult Years
After graduating from Decatur Negro High School, Mildred married William Qualls, Sr. and later moved to Huntsville, Alabama where she was a professional cook at various locations. Her love for cooking would be evident throughout her lifetime as it became the way she showed love to her family. Some of her favorite dishes to prepare for Sunday dinners were chicken and dressing, turnip greens mixed with mustards and kale, and roast. Cooking was not only a job, but a passion for her, as she enjoyed learning new recipes while watching The Food Network later in life. After a divorce, sometime later she would unite with Fleming Vance.
Her Latter Years
Over the course of her life, Mildred grew to become a strong willed, prayerful woman who developed a deep devotion to God. Upon retiring in 1985, she moved to Lansing, Michigan, where she joined Paradise Missionary Baptist Church and loved serving on the Mother’s Board. She and her close friend, Mother Stella Love, made weekly visits to the nursing homes to pray with and encourage the residents. Prayer was her superpower and would be the source of her strength during both the mountain top and valley moments of her life.
In 2013, Mildred moved to Atlanta, Georgia with her granddaughter, Shantoria, her daughter, Angela, and her grandsons Corey and Dionte. In March 2014, she became a member of Greater Travelers Rest Baptist Church (The House of Hope Atlanta) during a Wednesday in the Word service. The House of Hope was a blessing and gave Mildred a place to serve in ministry even in her seasoned saints years. She served on the Prayer Ministry and the Mother’s Board, and she loved attending weekly Bible Study and Sunday Service. She was very grateful for the members of The House of Hope Atlanta who called to pray with her and were supportive of her and her family during the latter part of her illness.
One of the highlights of her life, at the end of her life, was her 94th birthday celebration. Mildred was overjoyed as she shared that she had never had a birthday party. She was elated to see her family and friends who came from near and far to celebrate.
Remembering her Legacy
The summation of Mildred’s life could be seen in view of Psalm 91:14-16 (NRSV), “Those who love me, I will deliver; I will protect those who know my name. When they call to me, I will answer them; I will be with them in trouble, I will rescue them and honor them. With long life, I will satisfy them, and show them my salvation.” Her ultimate dependence on God is the legacy she would want others to remember. She transitioned peacefully with her daughter, Angela, by her side.
Preceding her in death was her father, Frank Sykes, her mother, Susie Lee Vinson, her brother, Morris Vinson, and her children: Jacqueline (Albert Sr.) Webb, William Qualls Jr., Andre Qualls, Martha (Noble) Rice, Janice (J. Bouman) Harris, and Leonard Qualls. She leaves to cherish her memory her children: Angela Vance, Patricia Qualls, Nathaniel Qualls, Michael Qualls, Larry Qualls, and Cynthia (Henry) Rogers. She also leaves behind her sister, Emma G. (Bob) Lark, and a host of grandchildren, great-grandchildren, great-great grandchildren, cousins, nieces, nephews, and dear friends and neighbors.