- Category: News
09 Jun 2011
- Written by Tri-State Defender Newsroom
Verna Dixon Todd Coggins
A 1937 graduate of Manassas High School, she attended LeMoyne College. Many years later, she furthered her development at State University of New York Agriculture and Technical College in Farmington, New York, where she became certified in early childhood care. She subsequently opened and operated her own child care service.
Verna Dixon was one of three children born to the late Herman V. Dixon Sr. and Limmie Duff Dixon. Herman Dixon was employed by Works Mill in New Albany, Miss., before he received a job transfer to C. F. Works Mill on Firestone Boulevard in Memphis. In 1932, the Dixon family established residence in the North Memphis New Chicago community, approximately two blocks from where Herman Dixon worked.
The Dixons became neighbors with the late Mrs. Emma Exum, a dedicated Trinity member. Because of Mrs. Exum’s influence, Verna Dixon began attending Trinity and later made a personal decision “to accept Christ as her Lord and Savior.” She continued the pursuit of spiritual growth and service throughout her life.
Verna Dixon married the late James Todd, who preceded her in death at a young age. The couple had one daughter, Frances LaVerne. Later, the widow Verna Todd married her companion of 44 years, the late John W. Coggins, who preceded her in death in 1991.
John Coggins was a skilled brick mason by profession and during his working years went wherever work could be found. Thus, John and Verna Coggins were away from Memphis for 30-plus years.
For twenty-eight years, the couple resided in Long Island, New York and united with Hollywood Baptist Church pastored by the Rev. Dr. Andy C. Lewter Sr. While at Hollywood, Mrs. Coggins served diligently and faithfully as a deaconess, a member of the senior choir, teacher/director of the Vacation Bible School and as a Sunday School worker.
With John Coggin’s health declining, the couple returned to Memphis in December, 1989 to be near relatives. Upon returning to Memphis, Mrs. Coggins reunited with Trinity C. M. E. Church during the pastorate of the late Rev. Dr. J. O. Lowe and served as a stewardess, missionary, and Sunday School worker.
With her own health declining, Mrs. Coggins moved to Los Angeles in September of 2005 and established residence with her daughter, LaVerne. On Nov. 6, 2005, she joined Crenshaw United Methodist Church and worshipped at Crenshaw whenever her health permitted.
Verna Dixon Todd Coggins was driven by her passion for service to her church and love for children, her family and friends. Her beautiful smile, genuine, outgoing personality and cheerful laugh generated many friends throughout the United States. She always stayed in contact with her family and many friends with a telephone call and/or a greeting card.
To celebrate her long and remarkable life, she leaves to cherish her memories: her daughter, Frances LaVerne Martin; a granddaughter, Cynthia Martin (whom she called “my one and only”); two sisters-in-law, Nellie Dixon and Arletha Smith; an aunt, Margaret Armstead; two nieces, Debra A. Davis and Essie Davis (James); three nephews, Melvin L. Davis, Sr., Matthew R. Davis III, and Edward Todd (Billie); one first cousin, Madie D. Rucker; the Davis and Martin extended families and a host of other relatives and friends.