Yvonne Kirkpatrick Willie, Birmingham Branch (Alabama)

Yvonne Willie died peacefully in her home on January 16, 2018,  surrounded by loved ones as she joined the love of her life, Louis Willie.

Yvonne was a letters member of the Birmingham Branch. She was born in Pembroke, Bermuda, in 1917 and moved to Nashville, Tennessee, where she received her undergraduate degree from Tennessee State University. After her marriage, she moved to Birmingham in 1952 to teach at the A.G.Gaston Business College.

I first met Yvonne in the early 1990s in writing classes in the home of author Anne Nall Stallworth, where we were both honing our writing skills. After those classes, she went on to publish a children’s book, “The Boy Who Didn’t Want To Be Black,” and essays titled “A View From The Hammock.” She also wrote a number of short stories and essays that won awards in our literary competitions.

Her essay, “Early Blooms,” was published in Birmingham Magazine’s “33 Best Things About Birmingham” in May 1993. She also completed the soon to be published book detailing her life with Louis during the turmoil of the Civil Rights era, “My God It’s A Colored Man.”

Currently Yvonne was a member of Cathedral Church of The Advent. She joined NLAPW Birmingham in 1996 and was a member until her death. We will all miss her sweet presence in our midst.

— Jan Harris, president, Birmingham Branch


Dorothy Timmons, 101, Art Member, Des Moines Branch

Dorothy Timmons
Dorothy Timmons in the mirror

Dorothy Langdon Timmons (1916—2018) of Ames, Iowa, was a true inspiration to American Pen Women. Born in the town of Hornersville, Missouri, at age 14, she became a trailblazer leaving home to attend Webb Preparatory School in Bell Buckle, Tennessee. As a Gamma Phi Beta, she graduated from the University of Missouri with degrees in elementary education and applied art. She married John Timmons, and in 1947 they moved to Ames.

It wasn’t until their eight children were raised that she was able to develop as an artist, exhibiting in group and solo shows, and entering juried shows annually. The view overlooking Leech Lake in northern Minnesota inspired many of her works. Watercolor was her favorite medium because of its freedom. She said that it was “the most exciting, the most versatile, the most expressive, and perhaps the most baffling medium of all.”

Dorothy’s passion for art was shown in her co-founding and becoming the first president of Iowa Artists. She was a signature member of the Iowa Watercolor Society and for years, painted weekly with members of the Leech Lake Arts League. She was an art member of the Des Moines Branch for 45 years. She was a dedicated supporter of the arts, and her paintings were beautiful.

She was in her 90s when she finally gave up painting. Dorothy still invited our branch to have meetings in her lovely home. In fact, we met there in 2017 when she was 100 years old. She had the vigor of someone much younger.

Dorothy was a warm, gracious, and elegant lady. As one of her family members so aptly commented, “She always placed others before herself.” NLAPW was an important part of Dorothy’s life, and her talent and friendship are greatly missed.

— Linda Hodges, Shelly Thieman, and Pat Underwood; Des Moines Branch

Related: The Pen Woman League’s Legends & Legacies article, “Dorothy Langdon Timmons: A Des Moines Branch Icon”

Barbara Pierce Bush, Honorary Member

Barbara Bush
First Lady Barbara Bush gives the press a sneak peak at the Blue Room Christmas Tree in 1991. Photo courtesy the White House

Barbara Pierce Bush, First Lady and wife of 41st President George Bush, was born June 8, 1925 in Rye, New York, and died April 17, 2018, in Houston, Texas. As first lady of the United States, she worked to advance the cause of universal literacy, founding the Barbara Bush Foundation for Family Literacy.

She was conferred to NLAPW honorary membership in 1990, as author of “Millie’s Book: As Dictated to Barbara Bush” and “Fred’s Story, A Childish Adult Book by C.F. Bush,” edited by Barbara Bush.