She Was A Late Bloomer
“The righteous shall flourish like a palm tree. He shall grow like a cedar in Lebanon. Those who are planted jn the house of the Lord shall flourish in the courts of our God. They will still bear fruit in old age; they shall be fresh and flourishing, to declare that the Lord is upright. He is my rock, and there is no unrighteousness in Him.” (Psalm 92: 12-15)
Venniesee was born in Marvel, Arkansas, May 12, 1933, the third of six children of Percy and Earlie Mae Watson. Her parents moved to Indianapolis when she was about five years old. She attended public school here, graduating from Crispus Attucks High School in 1950.
Venniesee accepted Jesus as her Savior as a teenager and was a member of Mt. Paran Baptist Church most of her life, serving in the Sunday school, BTU (Baptist Training Union) and ushering. She also raised her children in the church, exposing them to Christ at an early age. She later united with Zion Hope Baptist Church under the pastorate of the late James S. Wells. It was there that her appetite was whetted to study the Word of God. She enrolled in what was then called Baptist Bible College of Indpls. and began Biblical studies just for her personal edification. As she studied and applied the Word to her life, she began to get a vision to prepare for full time ministry as a Christian school teacher with a goal of serving on a foreign mission field. Upon graduating at the age of 59, she immediately received an appointment as an elementary education teacher at Baptist Academy Christian School on the south side of Indpls. This led to her retirement from the Dept. of Veterans Affairs where she had worked for 34 years.
Venniesee enjoyed every moment of this second career and taught for eleven years. She felt that she had finally discovered what God wanted to do with her life at this particular time since her children were all grown and on their own. She more or less abandoned the idea of serving on a foreign mission field. But her heart was still into missions. She seized every opportunity to host visiting missionaries in her home and faithfully supported one of her classmates on the foreign fields.
When the opportunity to do a short term stint on a foreign mission field was presented at her church, she readily availed herself. In 1998 she had her first exposure in a trip to Iquitos, Peru, as part of a summer team to work along with missionary apprentices to assist her fellow classmate who was serving there. It was a jungle ministry and a very challenging one at that.
After retiring from teaching in 2003, the door opened for her to serve in Ghana, West Africa as Headmistress of a Christian school that a Ghanaian pastor had started. At the age of 72 she went to Ghana and served there for two years. At long last her desire was fulfilled. She grew to love the people of Ghana and developed lasting relationships with some of them. After returning from Ghana she was a part of two summer missionary endeavors to the island of St. Lucia, West Indies.
Venny, as she was affectionately called, also served faithfully in her local church, Trinity Baptist. Ministry to children seemed to be her calling and she used her gifts of teaching and administration in the Sunday school ministry and a summer tutoring program. She was instrumental in getting an Awana Ministry started and served as Commander for 8 years. She also served as leader of a small group of ladies who met at the church for prayer early on Saturday mornings once a month. In addition to this she was part of a group who ministered a Good News Bible Club for children at Kendezi Academy (IPS #69), sponsored by Child Evangelism Fellowship. Venny had a strong work ethic and worked as a substitute teacher for IPS for 8 years, retiring at age 82.
Venny was the mother of five children, 3 by her first marriage to Leonard Clark, Sr. and 2 by her marriage to Thelitic Harris, Sr. Her oldest son, Leonard, Jr. preceded her in death. She enjoyed cooking and serving guests in her home. Her most enjoyable moments were having all of her children and grandchildren together at her home for Christmas dinner and family fellowship and Mother’s Day celebrations when her children treated her as “Queen for a Day.” Her greatest desire was to see all her children saved and “walking in truth” and to see them passing it on to their children, her grandchildren. Venny loved her Lord and Savior Jesus Christ and cherished His Word. Her favorite Scriptures were Matthew 6:33, Psalms 90 and 71.
She leaves to cherish her memory, three daughters, Debra Richardson Charter (David), Toni Johnson Miller, Kimberly Harris and a son, Thelitic Harris, Jr. (Joyce) a special son, Stanley Roberts, a sister, Amanda Strong, 13 grandchildren, 17 great grandchildren and 1 great-great grand, a host of nieces, nephews, cousins and friends.