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Father describes Kanye West’s mom as devoted daughter
Posted on: November 21, 2007 04:59 MST
Filed under: Rap, Underground

Kanye West

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) - Private funeral services were planned Tuesday for Donda West, the mother of Grammy-winning hip-hop star Kanye West.

Her father, Oklahoma City civil rights leader Portwood Williams Sr., described her as a devoted daughter and respected educator.
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"We were real close - very close," said Williams, who often called his youngest child "Big Girl." "She was just number one. One in a million. We have four children, and I've never heard them have an argument with each other. She was just a number one person."

Donda West died Nov. 10 in Marina Del Rey, Calif. A spokesman for the Los Angeles County coroner said West, 58, may have died from complications from cosmetic surgery.

A 1967 graduate of Douglass High School, Donda West attended Virginia Union University before receiving her master's degree from Atlanta University and her doctorate from Auburn University in Alabama.

West began her teaching career at Atlanta's Morris Brown College in the early 1970s. A Fulbright scholar, she went on to chair Chicago State University's English department.

After 31 years in higher education, she left academia in 2004 to serve as chairwoman of the Kanye West Foundation, a nonprofit organization created to combat the dropout rate among high school students nationwide. She also served as chief executive officer for West Brands LLC, overseeing her son's business interests.

Williams said he took Donda West and his son, Portwood Williams Jr., to the first Oklahoma City lunch counter sit-ins in the 1950s. Bringing them to protests such as the 1958 sit-in at Katz Drug Store, he said, instilled a sense of justice and taught them what his generation faced.

"They were quite young then," Williams said. "They asked me, ‘Why did I sit in (and bring them)?' Because I wanted them to see what I went through."

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