At 104 years old, Willie Etta Jennings is a bright, articulate woman with the memory of a person half her age.  She’s full of great stories, energy and still has a lot of passion for serving her community.

Born on March 8, 1910 in Lathrop, MO, Willie Etta moved to Kansas City to finish her high school education since there wasn’t a school high school Black students could attend near her home. 

After graduating from Sumner High School, she stayed on in Kansas, eventually getting married and raising her family.  An active member of the Kansas City community. she worked with civil rights groups, her sorority Delta Sigma Theta, and still serves on the board of the Vernon School Multipurpose Center.  

Willie Etta converted to Catholicism as an adult and remains active in her church Our Lady and St. Rose Catholic Church in Kansas City, KS.  For years she was employed as the director of the ArchDiocese of Kansas City in Kansas’ Social Services Day Care.  

Virginia Moore, who grew up in Our Lady, says she remembers as a child visiting the farm owned by Jennings and her late husband Latell.  They would regularly invite children from the community to come out and ride horses. 

“In the fall, they had country hay rides,” said Moore, who says she remembers those outings as some of the best time of her childhood.”    

What’s Willie Etta’s secret to long life?  “Don’t Die,” she said.  And a little sip of Baileys. 

Since 1996, Bonita has served as as Editor-in-Chief of The Community Voice newspaper. As the owner, she has guided the Wichita-based publication’s growth in reach across the state of Kansas and into...