Irene Herring Sealy, 90, affectionately known to many as “Miss Irene” passed away Wednesday, September 13, 2017 at her home, at the age of 90.
She was born in Centerpoint (Drew County) on July 23, 1927 to the late Wesley and Della Shoops Phillips.
She was a survivor of the tornado that decimated her small community of Centerpoint in 1939, killing over 40 people, many of whom were members of the Phillips family. The event was one that impacted her life. She and two of her first cousins became student nurses, with “Miss Irene” serving in the Mack Wilson Hospital in Monticello. She was selected by the Drew County Historical Society to record her account of the event. Her recorded interview is housed in the Achieves of the Historical Society.
She was a proud member of the graduating class of 1945 from Drew Central High School and attended Arkansas A&M College, now the University of Arkansas at Monticello. It was there that she met her first husband and the father of her children, the late Gerald Thomas Herring.
“Miss Irene” had a long and varied working career and was a familiar face in the retail and educational communities of Monticello and Drew County. She taught school at the Coleman Community School and lived in the teacherage there. She, like many in Drew County, found work at the Charm Tread Rug Mill which later became Burlington Carpet Mill. Additionally, she worked at Safeway, West Brother’s Department Store, Van-Atkins Department Store, Mary’s House of Fashion, Burnett Interiors and Young’s Furniture Store. However, to many Arkansas A&M/UAM college alumni she will be remembered for the many years in the 1960’s and 1970’s that she worked as assistant manager of the college bookstore. While at A&M/UAM, she was a member of the Dames Club, sponsor for the Alpha Mu Chapter of Alpha Sigma Tau Sorority and the Missionary Baptist Student Fellowship. She will also be remembered by the many customers she served during her years at Monticello Drug, from which she retired in 1992.
“Miss Irene” was an avid gardener, and in her terms, “a yard person.” She also loved to cook and entertain loved ones in her home. She was a gracious host, and often took food to those who were sick or going through hardships. In her retirement years, she enjoyed traveling with family and friends. She had visited all of the United States but Nebraska and traveled to Canada, Mexico, Puerto Rico, the Bahamas, Jamaica, and the Virgin Islands.
She was a faithful member of Pauline Missionary Baptist Church for over 60 years. At Pauline, she was a dedicated member of the Ester Circle and Ladies Auxiliary. Additionally, she was a sponsor of the MBSF at A&M/UAM and along with the late Mrs. V.V. Goodwin, served a meal to those students each Sunday night before church services. She was also an active and loyal member of the VFW Auxiliary of Monticello.
In addition to her parents, Wesley and Della Phillips and first husband, Gerald Herring, she was preceded in death by her brothers, Doyle Phillips and Joe Phillips; sisters, Callye Phillips Jordan, Evon Phillips Lindsey, and Dorothy Phillips Lynn; her husbands, Delbert Rogers, Nelson Grubbs, John Wolfe and Art Sealey; and a grandson, Steven Kelly Lane.
She is survived by her children, Janice Herring Lane and husband Bill of Baton Rouge, Louisiana, Gail Herring Hawkins and husband Fritz of Cabot, and Phillip Herring of Maumelle; her grandchildren, Keith Lane of Baton Rouge, Louisiana, Lance Scogin of Mountain Home, Brian Scogin and wife Raven of Sherwood, Rod Hawkins and wife Susie of Columbus, Ohio, Neal Hawkins of Columbus Ohio, Kara Lane Kepper and husband Kenny of Baton Rouge, Louisiana and Adam Hawkins of Cabot; thirteen great-grandchildren, Kade, Kenah, and Ky Kepper of Baton Rouge, Louisiana, Hannah, Jacob and Lily Scogin of Sherwood, Noah and Deaton Scogin of Mountain Home, Ryan and Agnes Hawkins of Columbus, Ohio, Elizabeth, Kayla, and Riley Hawkins of Columbus, Ohio, and a special friend and caregiver, JoAnn Keel of Monticello.
A funeral service will be held on Saturday, September 16, at 2 p.m. at Stephenson-Dearman Funeral Chapel with interment in Oakland Cemetery. Visitation will be held from 6 p.m. until 8 p.m. Friday evening at the funeral home.
Memorials may be made to the Challenge to Grow Fund of Pauline Missionary Baptist Church, P O Box 299, Monticello, AR 71657.