Profile Image
March 03, 2024



Mrs. Constance (Connie) Avant Wilson passed away at her home in Clifton, NJ on March 3, 2024. She was 86 years old. Since the summer of 2023, Connie had waged a courageous fight against lung cancer. The announcement was made by her loving husband, Dr. Laval Steele Wilson. On February 23, Connie and Laval had been married 61 years.

Connie was born on December 10, 1937, in Chicago, Illinois. She was the oldest of six children of Mr. Arthur Avant and Mrs. Evelyn Avant. She credits her deceased parents with instilling in her the value of a quality education, as well as how to live in a diverse society. Mrs. Wilson is also pre-deceased by her grandson Michael-Ray Richer, and brothers Ralph and Arnold Avant.

Besides her husband, Connie is survived by her four children, Laval Miller-Wilson, Esq., Mrs. Holly Wilson Moniz, Mr. Shawn De Soto Wilson, and Mrs. Nicole Wilson Richer. Mrs. Wilson and her husband have eleven dynamic grandchildren, Elijah and Benjamin Miller-Wilson; Mrs. Francesca Moniz Perez, Christian, Roman, Grayson, Jade and Alexander Moniz; Sophie Wilson; Sophia-Ray and Ella-Ray Richer. Also surviving Mrs. Wilson are daughter-in law Cathryn Miller–Wilson, Esq., sons-in-law Henry Moniz, Esq. and Mr. Stephen Richer.

In addition, Mrs. Wilson is survived by her brother Mr. Arthur Avant, Jr., his wife Blanca, and sisters Mrs. Jo Ann Avant Garrett and Ms. Angela Avant.
Mrs. Wilson is also survived by many nieces, nephews, cousins, extended family members, friends, and former colleagues .

Connie received her elementary and high school education in Chicago. She attended and graduated from Chicago Teachers College with a B. Ed. in 1959, and she later undertook graduate studies in education at the University of Chicago. Connie also was awarded an MA in education from NJ’s Caldwell College in 1995.

During her Chicago college days, Connie was an active member of the Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority. She participated in the orientation of new pledges to her chapter, and she assisted in her chapter’s community outreach program.

After college, Connie started her 25-year teaching career in the Chicago elementary schools, where she taught for seven years. While the Wilson family lived in Boston, Connie had the opportunity to do some teaching of academically needy freshmen college students at Northeastern University and Roxbury Community College during the late-1980s.

In addition, in that city, Connie served as the Acting Director of the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority during part of 1991. She then served as an Operations Analysis for the MBTA during 1992-1993.

As an active adult, Mrs. Wilson enjoyed camping, sailing, skiing, and playing tennis with her family and friends. Periodically attending professional baseball and football games were also on her lists of interest. She enjoyed listening to musicians play in Chicago, San Francisco, Boston, New York, and New Orleans. For many years she enjoyed attending the Annual New Orleans Jazz Festival. Besides relishing the music, Connie enjoyed eating more than her share of New Orleans Gumbo.

Dr. Franklyn & Mrs. Alfleda Jenifer indicated Connie was:

…a cherished friend who will be forever missed but
never forgotten because….Whenever we hear excellent
jazz music, we will think of Connie because few knew
and loved jazz better than her.

Because Connie’s husband was an urban superintendent of schools, the family lived in a number of communities. Mrs. Wilson was a homemaker in Hempstead, NY, Berkeley, CA, Rochester, NY and Boston, MA while her children were growing up. In these communities Mrs. Wilson was an active member of many organizations.

Here are some of her many community services. In Berkeley, Connie wrote a newsletter to assist in fund raising for the Berkeley Y-House. She was also a member of the Board of Directors of the University YWCA. In Rochester, Mrs. Wilson was on the Board of Directors of the Hochstein Music School.

While living in Boston, Connie served on the Board of Directors of the National Conference of Christians and Jews. Also, in Boston, she participated in volunteer work at the Higher Education Information Center.

During the time Connie was a graduate student at Caldwell College in NJ, she did some volunteer counseling at that school, and volunteered at School No. 6 in Paterson.

After completing her Master’s, Mrs. Wilson started her second career in elementary school teaching. She became a Basic Skills Teacher at No. 9 School in the Passaic, NJ Public School District in 1996. Her focus in this school for eighteen years was to assist young people to improve their skills in reading, math, and writing.

Connie frequently said, “one of my greatest professional joys was to see my students become proficient in their literacy skills.”

Connie’s approach to educating her students was very apparent to some of her colleagues. Retired No. 9 teacher Janet Battistuz said:

Connie’s warm, outgoing nature enabled her to effectively
engage with her students, providing the perfect balance
of nurturing and discipline to support their learning and
foster their academic success.

Another retired No. 9 teacher, Dottie Friedrichs, pointed out that:

Connie Wilson was respected by every staff member
and loved by every student she taught!

Former colleague Carolyn Nelson, who co-taught with Connie in a gifted and talented program one year at No. 9 School, also reflected on Connie’s teaching:

…She was very passionate about encouraging and providing
students with highly effective learning strategies. I admired
her strong work ethic, honesty and fairness. She was a genuine
role model…

Finally, Connie was indeed the esteemed First Lady for her husband’s role of Superintendent in various communities. A plaque from the Berkeley Schools Administrators Association sums up the admiration school people in districts across the country felt about Connie Avant Wilson:

To Connie Wilson-1974-1980
With Great Appreciation and Gratitude for Being the
Perfect Hostess, a Gracious Lady and the Finest Support
to our Superintendent…

Mrs. Wilson reluctantly retired from her career as a Basic Skills Teacher in Passaic in 2013. She said it was time for she and her husband to visit more with those eleven grandkids.


Connie will be laid to rest in Boston. A memorial service will be held in Boston on Saturday, March 16 at Marsh Chapel on the campus of Boston University. A viewing will be at 9:00 AM, followed at 10:00 AM by an Ecumenical Service and a Catholic Mass. A private burial will take place at Forest Hills Cemetery in Jamaica Plain.

Contributions in Connie’s memory can be made to Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center.

Content is coming soon...
Casper Funeral Services
187 Dorchester Street
Boston, MA 02127