Rena Lee Stevenson was born July 14th, 1911 in Harvey, Illinois to the union of Charles Richard Wheeler and Nancy Ann Wheeler, née Farris, both of Paynesville, Missouri. She was the sixth of 13 children. Five brothers and five sisters preceded her in death.
She attended McKinley Elementary School and Thornton Township High School in Harvey.
Though Rena was christened at and attended Shaffer Chapel A.M.E. Church as a child, she was later joined Harvey Church of God in Christ. She later a long-time member of Paradise Temple C.O.G.I.C. in Chicago, heading its Benelovence Committee and acting as church secretary. Following the death of her cousin Reverend Dr. James T. Watson, Paradise Temple’s founding pastor, she worshipped at Chicago’s Christ Outreach Ministries C.O.G.I.C. under Pastors Samuel L. Hawkins and Earthel Fleming, Jr. After moving to Springfield, IL to live with her sister, she became a church mother at Greater All Nations Tabernacle C.O.G.I.C. in Springfield, IL.
As well as her faith, music was always important to Rena. As a young woman, she was a member of the gospel singing group The Sharps and Flats. A contralto, she sang as a choir member and soloist at each church she attended.
In 1966, Rena married William A. Stevenson. He passed away in 1975.
She worked for the Social Security Administration for more than ten years, retiring when her granddaughter was born.
Rena Stevenson made her journey home on February 6th, 2009 in Oakland, CA in the loving care of her daughter and granddaughter.
She is mourned by her daughter Cheryl Alene Wheeler and granddaughter Lauren Lee Wheeler; her sister Elizabeth McDaniel and brother Harry Kendall Wheeler; nieces Barbara Newkirk Holmes and Donna Jackson; nephews Charles Howard Caesar, Clifford Gatewood. and Clarence Brown; godson Quinn W. Shepherd; and a host of other nieces, nephews, cousins, step children, step grandchildren, step great-grandchildren, family, and friends.
She will be remembered at a memorial service at 2:00 p.m. February 14th, 2009 at East Bay Church of Religious Science in the Fireside Room, 4130 Telegraph Avenue, Oakland, California 94609.