NEW ORLEANS – Viola Blayton Brooks, 82, the mother of newly elected Southern Baptist Convention President Fred Luter Jr., died June 27.
A life-long resident of New Orleans, Brooks was one of two daughters born to Joseph and Winnie Blayton, who preceded her in death. She grew up in New Orleans’ Third Ward neighborhood and later moved to the city’s Lower Ninth Ward.
As a single parent, Brooks worked multiple jobs, including as a seamstress and an assistant surgical technician, to provide for her five children. Luter has said his mother worked extremely hard to make ends meet or to get them “close enough to wave at each other.”
“She sacrificed a lot for me to be where I am today, and where all the siblings are today,” Luter said. “She worked hard to provide for us a life. I just thank God for all the sacrifices she made for us through the years.”
Viola Blayton Brooks, 82, the mother of newly elected Southern Baptist Convention President Fred Luter Jr., died June 27.
In raising her children, Brooks made sure they attended church. Luter said she was the one who planted the seed of faith in his life.
“Yes indeed, she was the one,” he said.
Because of her failing health, Brooks was not able to attend Luter’s nomination and election June 19 to the presidency of the Southern Baptist Convention, but she was able to watch via the Internet.
“She was excited; she told me she cried,” Luter said. “I went to see her the next day in between sessions, and she just told me how proud she was of me. She always did say that, though. She always did.”
Luter said that, typically, when he would visit his mother, she would greet him with “Well, look at my pastor” when he’d walk through the door.
“But that day when I came in, she said, ‘Well, look at my president,’” he said. “So it was pretty neat.”
Brooks was also preceded in death by her eldest son, Shelby Neveaux. She is survived by her sister, Evelyn Taplin; her children Yolanda Keeler, Fred Luter, Keith Luter and Felicia Blayton, and by 13 grandchildren, who called her “Dear.”
Funeral arrangements are to be finalized this weekend.
“The condolences of all the convention go out to Dr. Fred Luter in the loss of his mother,” said Frank Page, president of the Southern Baptist Convention’s Executive Committee. “This occurrence should encourage all of us to pray more for Dr. Luter. I believe that the evil one targets persons in positions like this. We need to pray one for another.”
(EDITOR’S NOTE – Frank Michael McCormack is New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary’s assistant director of public relations.)