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Announcing the Transition of

Honoring Eliza Yvonne Baskerville

October 22, 1952 - December 2, 2023


Eliza Yvonne Baskerville (Durham), known by Yvonne, was born on October 22, 1952, in Riverhead, Long Island, NY, to Rev. Dr. John E. and Mrs. Jessie Durham. She lived a life of faith, family, and service. Her commanding presence lit up any room she walked into.

As a child, Yvonne was a disciplined student, immersing herself in the subjects of history and geography, earning induction into The National Honor Society. She learned to play the piano at an early age, which fed her love for music. With an abundance of family living nearby, Yvonne could often be found playing softball in the yard of her childhood home or cooking using fresh vegetables from her parent’s garden. Living close to the water, she loved \spending time at the beach and listening to the sound of the waves.

After graduating high school, Yvonne went on to attend Rider University in Lawrenceville, NJ, where she earned her bachelor’s degree in Sociology in 1974. Afterward, she pursued her Master of Social Work (MSW) at Howard University (1976), as well as a Master in Public Administration (MPA) from Southeastern University (2004). As an alumnus, she was a recipient of the Gordan E. Prichard Award for volunteerism and service with Rider University for providing leadership in the Alumnae of Color Affinity Group, which established an endowment fund for minority students. She retired from a fulfilling and rewarding 36-year career with the Montgomery County Department of Health and Human Services in 2014, having worked as a licensed clinical social worker, budget analyst, and program manager impacting aging and elderly care.

While attending graduate school at Howard University, Yvonne would meet the love of her life, Lewis Baskerville, of South Hill, Virginia, when she was introduced to him by her sister. Lewis is an honorably discharged US Army Vietnam Veteran, awarded the Purple Heart (twice) and Bronze Star for bravery in combat. At the time of their meeting, Lewis was working in the Office of Veterans Affairs at Federal City College (now known as the University of The District of Columbia). After a year-long courtship, Yvonne and Lewis would be married in 1976, establishing their lives in Washington, DC. They would go on to have two children - Janel and Justen - to complete their family.

Yvonne was a relentless advocate for her children’s development and education while also instilling a strong sense of community in their lives and exposing them to unique experiences. The family would join the Washington, DC, chapter of Tots & Teens, Inc., an African-American family-based organization, where Yvonne would hold a variety of leadership positions and facilitate strong social bonds with other like-minded families. Yvonne would also hold positions as the Parent-Teacher Association President while her children attended Alice Deal Junior High School and joined a variety of parent councils of the DC Public Schools. The family would also travel regularly, spending time with relatives and close friends to reinforce the children's exposure to new environments and diverse perspectives.

Yvonne was a music enthusiast, which, coupled with her vocal talents, led her to become a vocalist at a young age. She shared her gifts across many gospel choirs, including Durham A.M.E. Zion (Bayshore, NY), Trinity A.M.E. Zion (Washington, DC), and Union Wesley A.M.E. Zion (Washington, DC). Additionally, Yvonne enjoyed lending her voice to community choirs. She was a member of the Brentwood High School Concert Choir, which toured Europe in 1970, and was a founding member of the Heritage Signature Chorale (HSC), serving as the chorale manager in 2000. With HSC, she would perform in dozens of venues in Washington, DC, including The John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, as well as Carnegie Hall in New York City. Yvonne remained an actively engaged and dedicated member of HSC through early 2023.

Yvonne was undeniably dedicated to her faith and church community. She served in leadership roles as a youth, including church sexton, organist, choir member, Sunday School secretary, and founding member of her father’s church, Durham A.M.E. Zion, in Bayshore, Long Island, New York. As an adult, her commitment to the church continued as a lifetime member of the International A.M.E. Zion Church. Yvonne was an officer and active member of the Mid-Atlantic Lay Council. She was elected President of the local Lay Council and was a member of the Women’s Home and Overseas Missionary Society (WHOMS), Voices of Inspiration Choir, and several scholarship ministries. At the conference level, she served as Chair of the Election and Budget Committee, a member of the Connectional Lay Council (CLC) Executive Board, a member of the Mid-Atlantic Episcopal District (MAED) Resolutions Committee, and member of the Voter Registration Committee. Yvonne’s service extended even further as a budget and finance committee member and President of the Melda Martin Student Financial Aid Committee at Trinity A.M.E. Zion Church.

She was the first elected Vice President for the International Connectional Lay Council (CLC) of the A.M.E. Zion Church, serving on both the Executive Board and the George Leake Scholarship Committee of the Young Adult Initiative. As vice president, she also served as convention chair and delegate in 2013 and 2017, and she organized two evangelistic retreats. Furthermore, Yvonne was the first chair of the CLC Young Adult Initiative and served on the board for four years. Yvonne was elected lay delegate to the AME Zion Church General Conference (2008, 2012, 2016, 2020, and 2024).

Her dedication to community service led her to lend her passion, time, and energy as Director of Buds of Promise; President of Tots and Teens, Inc.; Co-Chair of the Aging in Place Committee for the Crestwood neighborhood; member of the DC Mayor’s Committee on Aging; and a volunteer with the AARP Long-Term Care Ombudsman Office where she advocated for the elderly in nursing homes.

Yvonne joined the Federal City Alumnae Chapter (FCAC) of the Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc., in 1979. Her involvement as a Diamond Life Member of the chapter allowed her to continue to support her community through service and volunteerism in countless capacities. She proudly served as chapter treasurer, member of the finance and Founder’s Day committees, book club member, and Delta D.E.A.R.S.

Outside of her community involvement, Yvonne enjoyed playing tennis, golf, reading, puzzling, arts and entertainment, culinary experiences, traveling, playing the organ and piano, and spending time with her family and friends.

Yvonne was a loyal and devoted wife, dedicated mother, and engaged grandmother. She could regularly be found traveling with her husband Lewis, most recently visiting Alaska and Mexico. She supported and took an active interest in her children’s graduate school educations, hobbies, business endeavors, and career development. She frequently attended her grandson’s soccer and basketball games and took her granddaughter to gymnastics class and Disney on Ice performances.

She transitioned to be with her Lord and Savior peacefully, with her family by her side, at her home in Washington, DC, on Saturday, December 2, 2023, at the age of 71. Yvonne is survived by her husband of 47 years, Lewis Baskerville; daughter, Janel Baskerville Turner (Devonn Turner); son, Justen Baskerville; grandchildren, Aaron and Aria Turner; sister, Shirley D. Richardson; former brother-in-law, Robert E. Richardson; and a host of extended family and friends. Her caring, supportive, and dedicated spirit will truly be missed by all she knew and loved.

Eliza Yvonne Baskerville, Howard University, Union Wesley A.M.E. Zion Church