Lavera Knight Hughes passed on December 1, 2016 while in the Intensive Care Unit of Memorial Hospital, at the age of 73. She was born to the union of Dempsey Lewis and Ida Lillian (Brown) Knight on January 11, 1943 at Camp Wheeler Army Base Hospital, in Macon, Georgia.
She was a graduate of Jamestown High School Class of 1961, Jamestown, NY. Lavera attended Southern University, Baton Rouge, Louisiana. She was inducted into Kappa Delta Phi, a National Educational Honor Sorority, received a Bachelor of Arts Degree in Education in 1965 and a Masters of Arts Degree in Education in 1972 from Ball State University, Muncie, Indiana.
Lavera relocated to South Bend in 1965 to begin a teaching career, which spanned for over 36 years. She was employed by the South Bend Community School Corporation. Lavera taught first grade in South Bend’s Kaley, Kennedy and Monroe Elementary Schools and retired from Monroe Elementary. She was an active member and served as president of the PTA & PTO’s of each school where she taught. Lavera was a member of the American Federation of Teachers, serving on the local Executive Committee and later a member of the National Education Association. In 1984, Lavera was selected Monroe’s “Teacher of The Year” and a Runner Up in the South Bend Community Corporation’s “Teacher of the Year” Competition. In 1997, Lavera was recognized by the Executive Journal’s Board of Directors as Co-Educator of Year for “Outstanding Educational Leadership.” Lavera’s civic service includes serving as a member of the initial Board of Directors of the South Bend Century Center during its construction and beyond. She is a Life Member of the NAACP and a Life member of Alpha Kappa Alpha National Sorority, active in Eta Mu Omega Graduate Chapter.
Lavera transferred her church membership to Olivet African Methodist Episcopal Church, South Bend, shortly after her relocation, where she has served as a Trustee. When her mother also relocated to the area, she organized the Leisure Ladies, a social Luncheon club for retired women. Lavera loved reading, cooking, cultivating flowers, often nursing her sick friend’s flowers, singing and hosting parties for friends.
Lavera is survived by her husband of 49 years, Hollis E. Hughes, Jr.; her mother, Ida Lillian (Brown) Knight of South Bend, IN (formally of Jamestown, New York); a brother-in-law, Wade D. (Pamela) Hughes of Altadena, California; and a host of cousins, nieces, grand-nephews grand-nieces, and friends.
She was preceded in death by her father, Dempsey Lewis Knight; and her brother, Eugene Charles Knight.
Funeral services for Lavera will be held at 11:00 am Friday, December 9, 2016 in the Olivet African Methodist Episcopal Church, 719 N. Notre Dame Avenue, South Bend. Rev. Rick Jackson will officiate. Graveside services and burial will follow in Highland Cemetery. Friends may visit with the family from 5:00 - 8:00 pm Thursday, December 8, 2016 in the Palmer Funeral Home - West Chapel, 2702 Lincolnway West, South Bend, where an Alpha Kappa Alpha sorority service will be conducted at 6:30 pm. Friends may also visit with the family for one hour prior to services on Friday in the church.
Online condolences may be left for the Hughes family at www.palmerfuneralhomes.com.