Up Above the World So High...Like a Diamond in the Sky!
On Sunday, November 27, 2022 Kappa Psi Omega's last Diamond Soror, Velma Joyce Grace Ritcherson transitioned from time to eternity after 95 years of style and grace. Soror Velma was born March 18, 1927 in Livingston, Texas. She graduated from Wiley College in Marshall, TX where she was initiated into Phi Chapter in 1945. A life member and Diamond Soror, Soror Velma epitomized what it meant to be an Alpha Kappa Alpha woman and render "Service to All Mankind."
She was a charter member of Kappa Psi Omega Chapter and since 2010 she has annually awarded the "Velma J. Ritcherson Scholarship "to a deserving college-bound student."
She was also an active member of the Madison Metropolitan Chapter of the Links, Inc. and served as a past president.
She was a Life Member of the NAACP and achieved Director Emeritus status of the Madison Symphony Orchestra Board. She was a member of the Urban League of Greater Madison, the Wiley College President's Club, past chairman of the Coalition of Minority Women and a member of Heritage Congregational Church, Madison,
Among her many accolades are the NAACP Unsung Heroine Award and the Charles Hamilton Houston Community Service Award.
Soror Velma began her professional life as a high school teacher in Waco, TX and after accompanying her husband to Madison, WI, she worked at the University of Wisconsin-Extension as a Specialist in the Division of Community Programs, with responsibility for enhancing and expanding partnerships between the University of Wisconsin and four Historically Black Colleges and Universities.
Of course Soror Velma will be sorely missed by her family and friends and the Sorors of Kappa Psi Omega will experience a deep hole in our sisterhood.
Soror Velma was preceded in death by her husband of 72 years, Lewis (Les) Ritcherson in 2019. The Ritchersons were parents of two sons, grandparents of 4 and great-grandparents of 4.
I think when I shall come to die,
There'll be no need of fear or sigh,
For if I've been an AKA, life owes me naught-
I've lived my day!
A Tribute to Charter Member Darlene Hancock
“Like a Thief in the Night” – 1Thessalonians 5:2-4
For you know very well that the day of the Lord will come like a thief in the night
The above scripture refers to the fact that no one knows when Jesus will return. There won’t be any billboards, new flashes, Facebook updates, or Twitter feeds to alert the world. He will come and come quickly…”like a thief in the night.”
This week I was reminded that something else often comes like a thief in the night—death! Yes, death arrived suddenly and unexpectedly in our community. Mrs. Darlene M. Hancock died suddenly at home. She was a strong champion for young people and their education and adamant that all children should have an opportunity to pursue higher education.
Darlene was one of those “old school” women. She never showed up at church without a hat on her head and oh, what a hat collection she had! She had tall ones, wide ones, hats with feathers, hats with rhinestones, hats with fringe, and hats with flowers. For Darlene, a hat was a woman’s crowning glory.
Darlene was devoted to her church—so devoted that it was she and her husband’s faith and devotion that made the purchase of the church building possible. As founding members of their church they underwrote its purchase. Now, that’s devotion!
Darlene also insisted that we should do things in a first-class way. We should not try to cut corners or be afraid to be extravagant in our appreciation for others. I remember a discussion about ticket prices for an event we were hosting. I kept pushing for a $45 ticket price and Darlene felt the price should be $50. I felt that people had a psychological response to price that was less than $50 and it would allow us to sell more tickets. Darlene looked at me and said, “OK, but you’re going to have a $45 affair. Darlene always wanted guests to feel as if they were being treated special at each and every event she was a part of.
Although Darlene was not a “young” woman, she was an active woman. She had recently inaugurated an afternoon learning center in her late husband’s name. She continued to participate in a variety of social and civic organizations and, of course, there was her church. Darlene was a fixture at her church. She supported its ministries and worked tirelessly with its young people.
No we never know the day or the hour when death will come calling. But just as we will not know when Jesus will return our charge is to be ready. Being ready means doing God’s work each and every day. It means following His commandments and trying to live holy. It means living each day as if He is coming that day. Darlene Hancock lived that way and I believe God in His infinite mercy and wisdom will honor her service.