Willie Mae Stevenson was born on Aug. 12, 1955 in Vicksburg. For as long as people can remember she was always out in the community helping someone or giving back to the community that made her who she was.
One thing that many remember her for is her great cooking. During her lifetime she worked for 40 years with the A&P Food Store, Sack N Save, Kroger, Winn Dixie and her own restaurant, Sweet Magnolias Southern Cooking, preparing meals for the community.
In addition to working in the food industry, Stevenson used her talents in the kitchen to help others. Each year she would roll up her sleeves and make Thanksgiving dinners for the homeless, elderly and anyone who was in need.
Sadly, on Oct. 4 of this year, Stevenson made her transition, leaving behind her husband, three children and numerous grandchildren.
“There are no words that can describe her, but if I had to they would be: woman of God, loving, heart of gold, inspiring, dedicated and hardworking,” said Dawn Stevenson, Willie Mae’s youngest daughter. “My mother has always loved cooking and it showed. She has been cooking over 40 years throughout Vicksburg. Wherever she cooked she was sure to bring a crowd. With each and every dish, it was prepared from the heart, and it touched the soul.
“She has cooked for years for Meals on Wheels, people of the community and even the first Gator Reunion Breakfast. She leaves a legacy behind and has touched so many even during her lifetime and even after her passing.”
In 2018, after working diligently as a chef for others, Willie Mae Stevenson decided it was time to go out on her own. She opened Sweet Magnolias Southern Cooking, a breakfast and brunch restaurant, with her daughter, Dawn.
“When my mother talked about cooking in her own restaurant in 2018 I decided to give her her flowers while she was still alive,” Dawn said about recognizing her mother’s wishes while she could still enjoy them. “She and I opened Sweet Magnolia on April first of 2019 on the corner of Washington Street and Bowmar. I didn’t know that I was giving her her last wish.”
Though Willie Mae Stevenson is no longer physically in Vicksburg, her spirit lives on while her family carries on the work she did in the community.
“She loved giving back wherever she could. If she didn’t have the money, best believe she prepared some of her delicious food in place of it,” Dawn said. “Five months into the business, her sudden illness and death shocked us as well as the community. She will definitely live on in the community. Sadly, we’ll be closing the doors of Sweet Magnolia Southern Cooking in November, but in her honor, we will be starting a scholarship in honor of her. Be on the lookout for her mobile food truck in 2020.”
The family also has plans to continue Willie Mae’s tradition of feeding the homeless during Thanksgiving. They will be providing information soon on the Sweet Magnolias Southern Cooking Facebook page.