Valley of the Sun United Way recently lost our dear colleague and friend, Willie Jeffries.
Following a successful corporate sales career, Willie joined United Way for his “second career” in 2013. His role here was as a Corporate Relations Manager, but those who came to know him and his service to others would soon realize how much more than his job title he was to all of us.
We will always remember his optimism, kindness, wisdom and his tremendous heart.
Here are a few thoughts our colleagues and Willie’s corporate partners have shared about him over the past week. We thought you might like to see them, too.
Willie is one in a million kind of guy. He brought such a warmth and kindness to every interaction that always made me feel like we were in good hands.
He made our team our team by providing not only his wisdom and expertise, but his signature sense of humor and smile. He could get a kick out of anything!
Willie would brighten up any room or Zoom room he was in. When things might go sideways, he'd chuckle and say "We've got it, we'll figure it out."
Always positive, professional, and helpful, Willie was a sign of stability and strength during times of change. A constant source of level-headedness, I never saw Willie flustered or stressed. He would listen, pause, and offer advice.
I will remember his signature chuckle, warm smile, and ability to rock a sweater vest better than anyone. We're better because of Willie and I count myself among the lucky ones for having known him.
I can't express how much I will miss Willie coming up to me, giving his little "one armed side nudge", saying "how you doing! How ‘bout them Dallas Cowboys?” followed by the signature Willie chuckle.
He was just such a sweet, sweet person, he will definitely be missed by me. Coming back into the office after COVID, his was one of the first faces I was looking for.
I would always hear Willie’s laugh at a volunteer event before I saw him. I loved that laugh; it was a warm hug of joy that I just loved and needed. Every time I hear Willie’s name, I think of that laughter.
Willie wasn't afraid to try something new and he was always willing to raise his hand to help wherever he could. He would check in on me and ask me how I was doing when he had a few minutes to spare and it always meant so much to me. I will miss those moments and I will miss Willie dearly. He was one of the most genuine and kind people I have had the pleasure of knowing.
He was such a joy to work with over the years and our team really valued his helpful and positive attitude. He will be dearly missed by the U.S. Bank family.
I pay my respects to a gentle, wise, kind soul.
He was an amazing individual and his passing leaves a huge hole in our community, VSUW and his family.
He was such a great man. He was always happy and always helpful.
One of our colleagues summed up our thoughts best when she said:
The team at United Way will miss Willie tremendously, but we will remember with great joy the impact that he had on us and his corporate partners, and most of all, the impact he had on so many people in our community who never had the chance to know him.
Education was an important part of Willie’s journey, and he was grateful for scholarships he received from various sources that enabled him to attend Jarvis Christian College, which otherwise would not have been possible. To honor and continue Willie’s legacy, Valley of the Sun United Way has partnered with Maricopa Community Colleges to establish the Willie T. Jeffries Scholarship Fund, which will support young black men pursing post-secondary education and certifications. To contribute or learn more, please click here (Donate to The Willie T. Jeffries Scholarship Fund (vsuw.org)