Nneka Eunice Nsonwu, fondly known as ‘Grandma Nigeria,’ passed away at the age of 80 on October 26th, 2019 after a lengthy illness. Nneka was born in Onitsha, Nigeria on May 27th, 1939 to Edmund NwawunuaruAnyaegbuna and Ogbange Agnes Okeani.
Nneka immigrated to North Carolina to join her only surviving son, Victor, his wife Maura, and their children: Amaka Nsonwu-Famer (Robert), Zik Nsonwu (Heather), and Adora Nsonwu (Joseph). She was preceded in death by her spouse, Osita Nsonwu, in 1978, and sons Charles and Chukwuma who died in childhood.
Nneka worked as a nursing matron and was the head midwife at the University of Nigeria Teaching Hospital in Enugu. She also provided midwife services out of her home in Nigeria, assisting countless neighboring women in delivering healthy children. Nneka’s firm and loving nature were evident in the many children she helped to raise; she always viewed her half-siblings, nieces and nephews, family friends, and grandchildren as her own.
Nneka was a devout Roman Catholic; her faith in God was evident in the stories that she told and the prayers that she sang. When in good health, she would often be seen throughout her neighborhood - Sunset Hills- walking to daily mass at her local parish, Our Lady of Grace. When asked how she was doing, she would often attribute her wellness to Him by saying “[everything is good because] it’s God.” To Nneka, prayer was the key to a deep faith and was a song that she sang often. Trusting in her relationship with her Lord brought her boundless joy and comfort.
Both in Nigeria and the United States, Nneka was a force to be reckoned with. She was a strong and compassionate servant leader who challenged traditional norms. Tragically widowed in her late thirties, Nneka not only had the fortitude to survive but also to thrive in the face of adversity. After the passing of her husband, she gave the little that she had left to her only son, Victor, to put towards continuing his education in the United States.
Once reunited with her family in the US, Nneka found delight in spending time watching her grandchildren grow. She would strap them to her back when they were infants, cradling them closely as she gardened, prayed, and cooked jollof rice and stew. As they got older, she attended sports matches, recitals, and graduation ceremonies. It was never difficult to find her in the stands as she was always dressed her best with her colorful Igbo fabrics, jewelry, and headscarves.
As one of the earliest PACE (Program for All-Inclusive Care of the Elderly) participants, Nneka relished her time with her chosen community of fellow participants and medical providers. There, she especially enjoyed playing volleyball, making crafts, and playing bingo. Both the medical, emotional and social care she received from PACE enriched and extended her life. Both Nneka and her family especially appreciate her most recent core team of providers: Dr. Julie Williams, Jan Patrick, and Misty Paladino as well as the staff from Heartland Living and Rehabilitation.
There will be a celebration of Nneka’s life on Saturday, November 16th at 1:00 PM located at St. Mary’s Catholic Church (1414 Gorrell Street, Greensboro, NC 27401). A reception will follow immediately after the mass; a private burial will take place.
In lieu of flowers, donations can be made in her honor to PACE of the Triad (1471 East Cone Blvd, Greensboro, NC 27405).
To send flowers to Nneka's family, please visit our floral section.