Obituary of Vernita Nicole Wingate
Vernita Nicole Wingate was born October 20, 1977 on Yokota Air Force Base in Tokyo, Japan. She was the fourth daughter born to Laverne Wingate and Ella Lighty Wingate. The family would eventually include five children (four daughters and one son). She transitioned to her heavenly home on Saturday, September 16, 2023.
Vernita was a precocious child. She was adventurous, fearless and had a very strong will. She was the “baby girl” of the family and was loved by all. She was a nurturer, a listener and a forever friend. She could do no wrong and was known for her sweet smile and chubby cheeks.
Vernita received her formal education in the public school systems of Bellevue, Nebraska and Columbia, South Carolina. She was a graduate of A.C. Flora High School where she was Class President each year and Student Body President during her Senior Year.
Vernita earned a Bachelor of Arts in Psychology from the University of South Carolina and completed two post graduate degrees as well from the University of South Carolina. She received her Master of Public Health (MPH) and Master of Social Work and was a Licensed Master Social Worker (LMSW). She was an honor student throughout her education career and was a member of multiple professional organizations.
Vernita’s various roles in her professional career focused on public health in both the public and private sector. A common thread for all of her positions were that they involved Vernita helping her community and advocating for those who needed a voice and a champion.
Vernita was most recently employed as a Program Manager at the South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control (DHEC). Vernita’s area of focus was related to tuberculosis prevention and control. She was a powerful proponent for those impacted by the disease and helped them to receive the services and support needed as they navigated through the government and health care benefits system. She also helped to lead and support services coordinated by DHEC during the COVID-19 pandemic as well as overall disaster preparedness and responsiveness.
If you had the pleasure of knowing Vernita, you knew she was a storyteller. She could paint a picture with words that made you feel like you experienced the story first hand. She was animated in a way that drew you to her presence. She would often share “fireside” chats with her family as she told them about her day.
Vernita had an infectious laugh and smile that radiated from her. She brought joy and kindness to everyone she met. She had a youthful presence that attracted the youngest and the oldest. She had a childlike innocence but was wise beyond her years. Children loved her and she loved devoting her time to them. She was a loving mother and dedicated teacher to many. Over the years she spent countless hours with her daughter, nieces and nephews pouring into them, playing with them, loving on them and making memories that will last a lifetime.
Vernita had an indomitable spirit. She was a fighter, warrior, advocate and could not be defeated. Her life is an inspiration and example for others. She loved the Lord and her family. The only thing she desired more of was time with her family.
Left to cherish her memory, are her loving and devoted daughter, Maya Wingate; mother, Ella Lighty Wingate; sisters, Wanda Wingate, Cheryl Wingate and Marsha (Dedric) Wingate Hudson; brother, Michael (Shantel) Wingate; nephews, Deon (Tonisha) Jacobs and Ian Wingate; nieces, Lesley Jacobs and Hannah Wingate; and great nephews, Aiden Anderson and Jaxson Jacobs. Additionally, her aunts are Evelyn Wingate Rhodes, Marilyn Hines, Doris Lighty, Bertha Lighty Wilkinson, Joyce Wingate Thomas and Rudean Lighty Cain. Her uncles are Paul E. Wingate, Louie B. (Fredericka) Lighty and Charles M. Wingate. She will also be missed by a host of extended family that includes cousins and friends near and far.
She was preceded in death by her loving father, Laverne Wingate. Additionally, waiting to embrace Vernita in her eternal home, are her paternal grandparents, Prince Wingate and Rosa Lee Hammond Wingate; maternal grandparents, Gus Lighty and Ethel Lee Lighty; and several beloved aunts and uncles.
Visitation will be Friday, September 29, 2023 from 5 PM to 7 PM at Thompson Funeral Home, 845 Leesburg Road, Columbia, SC 29209. A celebration of life homegoing service for Vernita will be held on Saturday, September 30th, 2023 at 1PM at Thompson Funeral Home.
We invite extended family, friends and colleagues who are unable to attend the homegoing service to participate online via the livestream service hosted by Thompson Funeral Home at 1 PM on Saturday, September 30, 2023, Please use the following link to join the service: https://client.tribucast.com/tcid/1799028275