Velma Barnes

Obituary for Velma Marie Barnes


Velma Marie (Wheeler) Barnes (60) was born at Freedman’s Hospital in Washington, DC, on January 13, 1958 to her parents Annie G. Wheeler and William A. Wheeler. She departed this earth on March 18, 2018. 

Velma attended elementary school in the Charles County Public school system and graduated from Lackey High School in 1976. After high school, she attended what was then called the Charles County Community College from 1976 until 1978. After college, Velma joined the Old Dominion Job Corps Center in Monroe. VA. She was also a veteran (Sargent E-5) who served her country in the United States Army from 1980 until 1985. 

She began her civilian career in 1986 at the Smithsonian Institution as a supervisor for the Shipping and Receiving Department, a position she held to two years. Seeking advancement, she accepted a position with the United Postal Service as a Mail Processor from 1988 until she retired in 2012. In addition to her full-time positions with the Federal Government, Velma worked part-time as a Security Officer from 2010 until 2012.

Velma raised her son Marcus, as a single mother. He is an only child whom she loved with all her heart. She guided him in life and career as much as any mother could. Velma enjoyed playing tennis and was a dedicated spectator at the Mystics and Wizards basketball games. As a little girl, she took an interest in playing the guitar. Her father played and her grandfather played, and she took a few formal lessons to enhance her skills. However, she never pursued it seriously.

Growing up, Velma attended Catholic Church until she reached the age of 18. After that she began to occasionally attend church with her mother who was Methodist. More recently in life, Velma joined the Empowerment Liberation Cathedral (ELC) in Silver Spring, MD. This Church is where Velma was received with open arms and love. It was here that she grew in her spirituality and developed an everlasting faith in God. Her Bishop Allyson Abrams along with her fellow church members, provided never ending support to Velma through her battle with cancer.

Velma began her battle with cancer in 1997. She remained strong through her several bouts with cancer whenever it returned. Over the years, Velma has participated in several cancer walks and other programs designed to raise funds to help fight the disease. One of her favorite programs sponsored by her church, is Praying in Pink. This is a program her Church holds every year with its congregation wearing pink to the Church service and recognizing and celebrating the continued survivorship of its members. This year has been one of her toughest battles.

Velma developed a “Bucket List” when she learned that her cancer had returned with a vengeance. During the last couple of years of her life, she visited Toronto, Canada, Myrtle Beach, SC, she took the Olivia Cruise to Half Moon Cay Bahamas; Cozumel, Mexico; Grand Cayman Islands; and Key West, FL. In addition to those trips, through the Olivia Travel group, she was able to visit Playa Bonita Panama Resort and Spa in Panama. One of her last wishes was to spend a night or two at the MGM Hotel and Casino at the National Harbor in Maryland. She watched the building as they were building it and knew that she wanted to experience the magnificence and grandeur first hand. On her 59th birthday, she did just that. It was just as magical as she thought it would be.

Velma was still with us on her 60th birthday. Once again, she wanted to celebrate at the MGM. She was able to enjoy her birthday with about 15 friends and family members at dinner, and about 30 other friends and family members in her room. They had cake, punch and champagne and celebrated life and friendship. 

As she became weaker, Velma was cared for by in-home hospice. Even then, she wanted to continue to do everything for herself that she could possibly do. Right down to going to the laundry mat with no assistance. Her strength and determination were like no other. And that’s the way she was right to the end.

Velma is survived by her only son, Marcus Isaiah Barnes, her father William A. Wheeler, three sisters, Patricia Smoot, Shelva Redd (Reggie), and Lisa Wheeler (Tony). Two brothers, Pat Smoot and Robert P. Wheeler (Mechelle). She is preceded in death by her mother, Annie G. Wheeler, her sister Marcia Farrar, and her brother, William A. Wheeler, II.