September 25, 2014


LAWT News Service



Willie Washington, Jr. was born to Willie Washington and Lucille Hands in Scott, Arkansas on January 1, 1929.  An only child, Willie was given early Christian training by his mother and his grandmother, Mrs. Annie Haynes, whom he lovingly called, “Big Mama”. He was an active member of Metropolitan Baptist Church and both women were very active in Baptist churches in Little Rock and North Little Rock.  Willie was reared primarily by “Big Mama” and he credited her as playing a pivotal role in his moral and spiritual growth.  “Sweet Willie” as he was known in his early years, attended the local public schools and received a Bachelor of Arts degree from Philander Smith College in Little Rock, where he majored in history, with a minor in secondary education.  During the Korean War, Willie served in the United States Army and was stationed in Korea. He was honorably discharged from the service and received the Combat Infantry Badge and a Bronze Star recommendation.


In 1957, Willie married his childhood sweetheart, Geraldine (Geri) Robinson, and they started their new life together in Los Angeles, where they were welcomed into the Christian fellowship of Second Baptist Church.  As an active member, he held several offices of leadership in the Henderson Adult Sunday School Class, Young People’s Department, and College Group Bible Study.  Willie enrolled in education courses at the University of California at Los Angeles, while also working for the United States Postal Service and later at General Motors. In 1963, when he and Geri were blessed with their only child, Stanley, Willie accelerated his educational pursuits and went on to earn his Master of Education degree from Pepperdine University.


With a focused concentration on education, Willie (fondly known as “Dollar Bill” by close friends and family) began teaching within the Los Angeles Unified School District and quickly became principal at several elementary schools, including Seventh Street, Purche Avenue and McKinley Avenue.  His no-nonsense approach to structure and discipline yielded him respect throughout the district and promotion to assistant superintendent. However, his desire to influence the “warriors” in the classroom, prompted him to return to the office of principal, but this time as one of the district’s top “turnaround specialists.” Willie was hand-picked to serve as principal in the Ten Schools Program, where he was dispatched into many of the ten worst-performing schools in the district.   Steered by his regimented and diligent leadership style, he executed his rehabilitation plan with groundbreaking results.  His success twice earned him the title of Principal of the Year, out of over 700 LAUSD principals.  After retiring from more than 25 years in LAUSD, Willie continued to mentor young educators as part of the District Intern Program and Teacher Development and Support Program.  He also ventured into the political arena as chief of staff for Councilwoman Rita Walters before embracing full time retirement.


Work and family left little time for recreation, but Willie found a few favorite pastimes.  He was a regular “fixture” at the Jackie Robinson American Legion Post 252 and held various leadership positions and also won their citywide pool tournament.  In addition to his success in billiards, “Dollar Bill” was a superior bowler and received championship trophies and individual accolades with the Golden Rollers, Friday Fun Trio, Monday AM Post and the Goodtime Seniors. 


Willie was a member of Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Inc., Beta Psi Lambda Chapter, a founding member of the Council of Black Administrators, and a charter member of the National Dunbar High School Alumni Association (LA Chapter).


An avid gardener, Willie was renowned for his prized tomatoes, collard greens, chili peppers and other vegetables and seasonings which were the perfect complements to his unmatched culinary skills in the kitchen and at the barbeque grill.  While “Dollar Bill” typically filled his retirement days bowling, gardening or socializing at The Post, his family often joked that by sundown, he could always be found dressed in his “uniform” (pajamas) and happily relaxing in his recliner.  


Willie Washington, Jr. peacefully transitioned to eternal life on September 6, 2014, after suffering cardiac arrest complicated by chronic kidney disease.  He is survived by his son, Stanley, daughter-in-law, Karen, grandchildren, Christian and Chasen, sister-in-law, Dorothy Steward of Chicago, Illinois, brother-in-law, Richard Tyrone Robinson (Sylvia) and a host of relatives and friends.

Category: Community