Remembering Latishia Wynn

Latishia Wynn. Photo courtesy of Tiffany Kirkland

Latishia Wynn, a beloved mother, grandmother, daughter and fiancée, died Jan. 16 at the age of 51. She died from a heart attack, according to her mother Diane Jones.

“She was my right hand,” Jones said. “No matter what the task was, I could depend on her.”

Wynn was born in D.C. on Nov. 28, 1970. Despite doctors discovering Wynn had mental disabilities, she overcame every challenge. Wynn participated in the Special Olympics, got married and had three children. 

Wynn always wanted to be a mother, Jones said, who remembers her daughter telling her, “I just want to be a mommy like you.”

All of Latishia’s children graduated from high school, two went to college and one attended graduate school. Latishia is also survived by two grandchildren, with a third soon to be born.

“She felt to be the kind of a person who was surrounded by family,” Thomas Ratliff, the director of vendor employment at Street Sense Media, said. Starting in 2015, Wynn was a member of the Writers’ Group, participated in art and theater and sold papers.

Wynn was extremely proud of the work she did for Street Sense Media, her daughter Tiffany Kirkland said. Wynn wrote about the impact of Street Sense Media in a piece titled, “Street Sense, My Story.”

Wynn wrote about her favorite times of the year, her family and her goals for Street Sense Media.

“My goal is to own my own bakery with cakes and cookies, pies and maybe ice cream,” she wrote in a 2016 piece titled “My Resolution.” Wynn also wrote about wanting to improve her reading skills through workshops. 

Her later writings are longer and more detailed. She wrote about her experiences living in shelters. “Ever since I’ve been homeless,” she wrote in 2017, “it’s teaching me how to be independent and how to take care of myself, like saving money.”

Wynn lived in shelters because she wanted to live on her own, Jones said. 

“She could have come home anytime,” Jones said.

Still, Wynn wrote fondly about her time living at House of Ruth, a women’s, children’s and family shelter near Thomas Circle where she liked to watch the news. At her previous shelter she liked to watch “Law & Order” and “Criminal Minds.” She had friends there, but she was excited to live at House of Ruth because she had the opportunity to meet new women. At House of Ruth, she woke up later and she had her own closet. Wynn felt independent, she wrote in a 2017 article. She felt strong. 

Wynn also spent time working at a mail facility off of New York Avenue where she packed and addressed mail, Jones said. Wynn had done maintenance work at a seafood spot at the Wharf, too. 

In 2018, Wynn wrote about her new apartment. Family, friends, and Street Sense Media vendors joined her for a housewarming party. She expressed gratitude for the Lord’s help. Wynn’s mother is a pastor whose sermons had inspired Latishia’s faith, Kirkland said.

Obtaining an apartment was not easy for Wynn, Julie Turner said. Turner is a social worker with The Downtown Cluster of Congregations Homeless Services Unit. Wynn did not fit the criteria to be housed through coordinated assessment and housing placement for single individuals, or coordinated entry, because she had not been living in shelters or on the streets.

“It’s an exercise in social work gymnastics to get them housed based on homlessness criteria,” Turner said in reference to unhoused people like Wynn who do not fit the definition of homlessness required to qualify for coordinated entry. However, with Turner’s help and the help of Street Sense Media case manager, Colleen Cosgriff, Wynn was placed in shelters long enough to qualify for housing. Wynn was patient through the process and was happy with her apartment, Turner said. 

“A lot of her patience came from having a place to be [at Street Sense Media],” Turner said. “Being able to focus on something other than her housing situation.” 

Latishia Wynn at the Street Sense Media 2015 National Geographic Your Shot workshop. Photo by Street Sense Media

However, Wynn may have been living at a group home in 2019 when she returned to Street Sense Media with her fiancé George Gray, Ratliff said. Gray is also a vendor.

“She was my queen and everything,” Gray said. “She was like a guardian angel to me.” The pair had planned to marry on Valentine’s Day.

I also love Valentine’s Day, showing and giving love to someone,” Wynn wrote in 2017.

Wynn continued to sell papers for Street Sense Media through the end of 2021. Former Street Sense Media Editor-in-Chief Eric Falquero recalled Wynn’s presence at the monthly vendor meeting in December. After Falquero had announced his departure from Street Sense media, Wynn shared encouraging words which inspired other vendors to speak up. Falquero described Wynn as quiet and kind.

But Wynn would not have wanted others to cry over her death, Kirkland said. If she were still around she would have told her daughter, “Smile, pooh bear.”  

Wynn was known for smiling even through pain, Jones said. She was a pleasant, easy-going person.

“When I would see her I would get happy because she was bubbly all the time,” Ratliff said. 

Wynn was a lover of crossword puzzles, horror movies and the color pink. But most of all she loved her family. Her favorite food was pizza because of Sunday pizza dinners where her family talked about gardening or planning family vacations. She will be missed by her children Tiffany, Joy and Darrell Jr., her grandchildren Xavier, Darnell III and Grace, her mother Diane Jones, her fiancé George Gray and her friends at Street Sense Media. 

Family and friends will commemorate Wynn’s life with a service at Mc Laughlin Funeral Home at 2518 Pennsylvania Ave SE, Friday Feb. 4, 2022. The viewing starts at 10 a.m. 

There will also be a memorial hosted by Street Sense Media. 

“I really enjoyed her when she was around,” Ratliff said. “She added to our community through her warmth and kindness and openness and I’m really going to miss her.”

Issues |Community

Region |Washington DC

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