Zeller Chapel of the Roses

2107 NE Broadway ST, Portland, OR


Mrs. Isaac Willie Collins (Hames) Wasson

April 11, 1927April 27, 2020
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Mrs. Wasson was born the sixth child of Mrs. Willie Belle and Mr. John Thomas Hames April 11, 1927. She was named after both of her grandfathers. As the smallest sibling, she had the longest name. However, neither in Rockwall, Texas, where she was born; nor Dallas, Texas where she grew up, was she ever teased about it.

Mrs. Wasson attended H.S. Thompson Elementary School, a few blocks from the house her father built at 2337 Bethurum Street. She attended Lincoln High School, an all Black segregated school during the Jim Crow era. This situational challenge caused Mrs. Wasson's strong focus on social activism; she did not let the Jim Crow tradition hinder her actions.

While she was beautiful enough to be crowned Miss May Queen in eighth grade, she was bold enough to be the only girl in her high school to play saxophone in the Lincoln High School marching band, smart enough to take and master with excellence (grade of A) all courses of math offered: plain and solid geometry, and trigonometry, receiving highest recommendation from her final math teacher! And, Isaac Willie (as she was known growing up), along with her best friend, were politically active: canvassing their neighborhood, gathering signatures to have the sidewalks and streets paved. They succeeded. And Isaac Willie graduated from Lincoln High School two months after her 17th birthday.

Isaac Willie went on to have many other firsts. After graduation from Clary Business College at 18 years old, she was the first African American to work for the Veteran's Administration in Ypsilanti, Michigan. At 19 years old she was the first African American woman to work at Michigan State University.

Though Isaac Willie had her heart set on continuing school to become a lawyer, she met Paul Edwin Wasson; fell in love; married, gave birth to two daughters (Edwina and Jennifer), and unfortunately divorced. Isaac Willie moved to Portland, Oregon. After working for the Welfare Department for a few years, she became Head of Files Department at the Federal Reserve Bank in Portland, reorganizing their records and bringing them into “twentieth century access.” Mrs. Wasson retired from the Federal Reserve Bank at the age of sixty-two.

Throughout her life Mrs. Wasson remained a loving daughter, a dedicated mother to her daughters, and a loyal sibling to her brothers and sister. Mrs. Wasson was involved with and contributed to her church throughout the years. After retirement she made dinners for her church until she turned seventy years old. It was then and thereafter that her grandson, Danny Duncan, toured her in France, Great Britain, Italy, and China. It was then that she reconnected with a friend from over four decades, who treated her to a cruise ship trip of a lifetime to the Virgin Islands.

Mrs. Wasson was predeceased by her parents and all siblings. She leaves her beautiful example of a life well-lived to her beloved daughters: Edwina Wasson and Jennifer Duncan, her treasured and beloved grandson: Danny G. Duncan; her beloved twin great grand babies: Sophie Mae and Annie Rose Duncan, beloved son-in-law, Ronald Taylor; and beloved grand daughter-in-law (mother of twins and wife to Danny): Shannon Marie Duncan. Mrs. Wasson also leaves her love to all family members of cousins, nieces, nephews, and family friends.

Mrs. Wasson was a shining light, blessing our presence by walking with us for a brief moment in time.

Memorial contributions can be made in Mrs. Wasson's name to the scholarship fund for her beloved great grandbabies, Sophie Mae and Annie Rose.


  • Visitation

    Sunday, May 3, 2020

  • Funeral Service

    Monday, May 4, 2020

  • Private Committal Service

    Monday, May 4, 2020


Mrs. Isaac Willie Collins (Hames) Wasson

have a memory or condolence to add?

Bobbie Peterson

May 21, 2020

Mrs. Wasson was kind to anyone who entered her home.
Kindness might have been her life's theme after feeding people tasty delicacies.

She was filled with joy when she spoke of her grandson, Danny.

She beamed with pride at the mention of her two daughters names-Jennifer and Edwina.
She made sure they landed in all the right places for a full and happy life.
She made a big fuss of her daughters's clothing, a clean house and healthy meals. She adopted numerous daughters and sons because she probably should have had ten.

She was proud of her understanding of Egyptian History and the burden of racism.
She was never afraid to discuss both, in great detail with everyone.

My favorite moments with her and sometimes her sister, were the occasions of being the food taster. They made the best yeast rolls from scratch, the best Greek food, the best sushi, the best sweet potato pies-need I go on with making you hungry. Cooking is an art form in this family and I think it's genetic.

Ms. Wasson and Jennifer were proud to teach her grandson or Jennifer's son, how to cook before he enter those sacred halls of college. Once again, I was invited to be the official food taster. Yummmm with the appetite of a large football linebacker :)

When my spouse passed, Mrs. Wasson knew exactly what days to call me to cheer me up. When I had numerous miscarriages, she was always seeking the answers of the cause with me over the phone with plenty of mother wit recommendations.

I shall never forget her kindness as my last Surrogate Mom. I miss her.

Carry on Isaac Willie with the next family of twenty you take on in the next realm of life!

Bobbie Peterson

Anjala Ehelebe

May 12, 2020

What a woman! We started a conversation of books about African history, detoured into other topics, politics, her knitting of pussy hats, discussed growing up in Portland and seeing Alberta street change, and many other things.

It was a hoot watching her 90-year old jaunty self wave me off to walk up the steps at the Lloyd Athletic Club for her yoga class.

Fred Tessler

May 12, 2020

Dear Jennifer and family,
I was saddened to hear of Isaac's passing. I have such warm
memories of our conversations as we traveled to and from her
yoga classes.
She was an exceptional person, as you well know,
and made a very positive impression on me. Her ability to thrive despite "Jim Crow", raising two fine daughters and moving across the country was remarkable.
I feel blessed to have had the opportunity to meet and know Isaac
for that short period of time. My sympathies to all. Fred

Cheri Tessler

May 12, 2020

I shall always remember Isaac's warm, engaging smile, her positive outlook on life and her ability to always make you feel welcome. She was a very special person, and I feel so fortunate to have been a part of her life.

Cheri Tessler

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