Sallie Irene Allen McClendon

Sallie Irene Allen McClendon, 86, entered into eternal rest Sunday, July 12, 2020, at her home in Blackshear. She was surrounded by her loving family. 

Her story is one of strength, courage and wisdom. Her journey began Saturday, July 15, 1933. She was born the third and final child of Joseph Oscar Allen and Ruby Bell Wilson Allen. With her birth, she completed the family circle, joining her oldest sibling, Lois Samantha Allen Hollman, and her big brother, Joseph Samuel Allen.

“Ms. Sallie,” as she was affectionately known, considered her family home and Scott Chapel United Methodist Church as places where she became rooted in the Lord, the foundation of her unshakable strength. At a young age, Ms. Sallie developed a love for music, especially gospel and spiritual music. She would sit on the house steps of her paternal grandmother, Georgia Marshall Allen, with her little legs dangling between the steps, and pretend to “play the piano.” While taking piano lessons, at about age 13, she became Scott Chapel’s church pianist and served nearly 75 years in that capacity, until her recent death. 

As God would have it, the little-girl Sallie grew to be a beautiful young lady, and she met a handsome young man named Eugene Edward McClendon. A casual meeting at the river during a Sunday School picnic turned into a courtship and eventually marriage on June 15, 1951, and lasted until Eugene’s passing in 2010. In harmony with each other, they brought into the world and reared nine children. As a young mother in the “Jim Crow” (segregated) South, her strength was tested often and her courage launched. After rubbing congested chests with Vick’s Vaporub® during the night, she courageously stepped forward during the day at the schools, when necessary, to support her children through the “wars” of integration and the disparities in academic delivery. Although she never worked for pay outside the home, her family, friends and even passersby knew her as one of the best lawyers, accountants, chefs, nurses, doctors, counselors, wives, mothers, grandmothers and friends one could find. 

Her knowledge and wisdom were unmatched. Her knowledge of Blackshear’s history—especially the evolution of African Americans in Blackshear—could fill a book. One day, she might, in a serious way, tell a group of African American band students, scampering for the seats on the back of the school bus, about the sacrifices made to free them from the back of the bus. Tomorrow, she might sheepishly quip to one of her children or grandchildren, “A cow will need a tail again in fly time.” 

Recognizing her glory was not in receiving praise or in sitting idle, she regularly worshiped with other churches of diverse denominations. Additionally, she was a cheerful and dedicated volunteer for several groups, including The Pierce County Food Pantry (longest-serving board member), the American Heart Association, City Wide Drive (coalition of local churches) and Easter Sunrise Service. Also noteworthy are those instances in which she shared delectable food from her table with passersby, danced the “Electric Slide” with a youngster or challenged anyone to a friendly game of Dominoes. Through everything, home base always was Scott Chapel. It is there that she conceived the idea of Homecoming activities, celebrated annually on Mother’s Day, and chaired the program for 40 consecutive years. Moreover, in the mold of her Grandmother Georgia, it is there where for decades she washed, ironed and pinned the long, white cloth that adorned the communion rail.

Her 86-year journey was not without its bumps. Through it all, however, her heart remained true. Her demeanor was positive. Her will was steadfast. Her deeds were autentic. And, her life was a continuing testimony to her unyielding faith.

She leaves to mourn her passing her nine “McClendon” children, shared with Eugene, and all earning their “minimum-required” high school diplomas: Myra Bell, Marietta, Kenneth Eugene (Gwendolyn), Blackshear, Nadine Evette, Caves Spring, Reginald George, Tucson, AZ, Gary Edwin (Katrina), Birmingham, AL, Eric Martin (Josie) and Alton Stanley and Bryan Keith (Alethea) all of Tucson, AZ and Rodney Prescott, Pittsburgh, PA; 12 grandchildren; seven great- grandchildren and countless nieces, nephews, cousins, and friends who will miss her immeasurably.

A social-distanced public viewing will be held from 6-8 p.m. Friday, July 17, in the sanctuary of Scott Chapel United Methodist Church, 420 Highway Avenue, Blackshear. Facial masks will be required.

A celebration of her rich life and lasting legacy is scheduled for 11 a.m. Saturday, July 18, from the Scott Chapel United Methodist Church. 

Interment will follow at Shiloh Cemetery, Blackshear, for family only. Social distancing will be maintained. 

Family and friends who desire to attend Saturday’s service at Scott Chapel must arrive by 10:30 a.m. where they will be able to hear and view the service live from their vehicles. Vehicles must have FM radio capability. The service can be viewed virtually by using this link:https://www.gatheringus.com/memorial/sallie-irene-allen-mc-clendon/4359

Jacobs Funeral Home of Blackshear is entrusted with final arrangements.

To plant a tree in memory of Sallie McClendon as a living tribute, please visit Tribute Store.

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