Verda Williams Obituary

Verda L. Williams
Verda L. Williams

October 13, 1944 - May 9, 2021
Born in Des Moines, IA
Resided in Ames, IA
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Verda L. Williams passed away May 9, 2021 in Des Moines, Iowa. Verda was born in Des Moines on October 13, 1944. She attended Roosevelt High School, Morgan State University in Baltimore, the University of Minnesota, Drake University (B.A.), and Iowa State University (MA.). She was a member of Phi Kappa Phi Honor Society.

An activist for many years, Verda became treasurer for the Des Moines chapter of the NAACP at age 13. Throughout her life she was involved with and recognized by organizations such as the YWCA, the National Council of Negro Women (prestigious Mary McLeod Bethune Award), the Harlem Prep School, and the Harlem Jazz Festival. Many of her numerous broadcasts and other productions focused on Civil Rights, women's history, the Black Arts Movement, and African American culture, including the campaign to free Angela Davis.

In the 1960s Verda appeared in theater productions in Chicago with the Chicago City Players. She was also the manager of "Aardvark Cinematheque," an experimental, foreign and independent film theater, which was a sister company of Second City.

As a producer, writer, and filmmaker at WNBC in New York City from 1970 to 1978, Verda received an Emmy citation for a televised feature on Adam Clayton Powell and an Emmy nomination for the weekly TV talk show Positively Black, which she produced and co-

hosted. She worked with the popular singing group LABELLE and produced concerts for them and for Vivian Reed and Nikki Giovanni.

In the late 70s, Verda went from production assistant to production office coordinator for two movies: "Can't Stop the Music" with the Village People and "Hard Hat and Legs," starring Sharon Gless, written by Garson Kanin and Ruth Gordon.

From 1981 to 1996, Verda was a video producer in the ISU Extension Office, where she wrote, directed and produced the award-winning one-hour documentary Black Des Moines: Voices Seldom Heard. From 1989 until her retirement, she was also an adjunct instructor at ISU in the English Department and the Women's Studies Program.

In 1998 Verda received a Drake University Alumni Achievement Award for her distinguished career. Her personal papers and professional materials are available for study in the Iowa Women's Archives at the University of Iowa and in Special Collections at the ISU Parks Library.

Verda is survived by her "greatest achievement" her daughter Nova J-L Williams, her sister Beverly Perteet-Nelson, many nieces, nephews and friends. Preceding her in death are her parents, J.C. and Virginia Williams, her sister Sheilah Manley and her Aunt Dora Mackay.

Verda was for many years a leader for the Ames District of the Buddhist Soka Gakkai International.




Funeral Home
Dunn's Funeral Home
2121 Grand Ave.
Des Moines, IA US 50312