Mary E. “Mae” Wilson Pennington, 101, of Monticello, passed away on June 16, 2016 at the Woods Nursing and Rehab Facility in Monticello.
She was a former Drew County deputy circuit clerk.
Mrs. Pennington was born November 30, 1914 in the New Hope community in Drew County, the 6th of 10 children of the late Robert W. and Annie Doss Wilson. All her siblings are deceased except one, Bivian Collins, 95, of Little Rock.
Mrs. Pennington married Joseph Harry Pennington, now deceased, on November 29, 1932. Her first child, Golda Mel, died in 1935 from a lung infection.
She is survived by five children, Nolan Pennington and wife, Aurelia of Fayetteville, Duwayne Pennington and wife Gloria of Greenhill, Clyde Pennington and wife Dixie of Ashdown, Annette Bolin, whose husband Dale recently passed away, of Crossett, and Sherrion Adair and husband DeWayne of Rye; 10 ten grandchildren, 16 great-grandchildren, and 11 great-great grandchildren.
She was a member of the New Hope Assembly of God Church, serving as its secretary/treasurer for many years. After moving to Monticello, she attended the First Assembly of God church until health problems intervened.
Mrs. Pennington was a loving and highly regarded wife and mother. She was the matriarch of her family, making do with the meager possessions available during the Great Depression and World War II. She was often required to manage the household and field work for weeks and months at a time while her husband worked elsewhere to provide income for the family needs.
Being a wife and raising a family in a farming environment was no easy task. She washed the family laundry in a cast iron wash pot heated by wood underneath and ironed all the family clothes. She fed the farm animals, split and stacked wood for both the fireplace and cooking stove, cooked three meals a day on a wood-burning stove, carried water in buckets from the neighbor’s well for cooking, drinking, bathing and the list goes on. Often times, her responsibilities took her well into the night, finishing by the light of a kerosene lamp.
Springtime found Mrs. Pennington in the fields, planting and hoeing corn and cotton, setting out tomatoes, and plowing with a Georgia stock or turning plow being pulled by a mule. After the cultivation of the crops finished, she would be at her foot-powered sewing machine, stitching, patching, and making clothes for her five children. Often times, she would make dresses for her girls and shirts for her boys using materials from colorful flour and feed sacks.
At harvest time, Mrs. Pennington was again in the fields with her growing children, teaching them to dig potatoes, pull corn, harvest peanuts, and pick cotton, all by hand. Joining them at intervals through the day after finishing her household chores, she could harvest more than any of them.
Even with five children and many other duties, Mrs. Pennington’s house was always well-kept. Her hospitality, caring attitude, and generosity always attracted relatives and friends in abundance. When distant family relatives cane to visit local relatives, her home always seemed to the focal point and hub of their visits. With meager rations and on short notice, she could always prepare a plentiful meal for everyone.
She practiced and passed her values on to each of her children. While her multitude of tasks prevented her from attending church regularly in the early lives of her children, she always encouraged them to attend. She taught her children to respect others, be courteous to all, and use self-discipline. They learned to appreciate and care for they had and not be envious of others. While she was a lenient disciplinarian, corporal punishment was readily meted out if the transgression warranted such action.
As each of her children began to finish high school and move on with their careers, Mrs. Pennington felt a need to improve her own skills and capabilities. She rented a manual typewriter and using her son’s high school instruction book, taught herself to type with a great deal of proficiency. Thus began a new and lasting career.
In 1959, Mrs. Pennington was hired and served as the Drew County Deputy Circuit Clerk for 18 years, during which time she enhanced and mastered the intricate details and responsibilities of the office. In 1977, she campaigned for and was elected as the Circuit Clerk and served four years in that position before retiring. The following four years, she worked part-time in the circuit clerk’s office on an as-needed basis.
Later in life, Mae developed a desire to camp and to travel. She has camped on the Saline and Buffalo Rivers in Arkansas, in the Redwoods of Northern California, and on the outer banks of North Carolina. Her travels took her to many states, on ocean cruises, and to several countries in Europe. More recently her greatest joy was spending quiet time and quilting in her cabin on the Saline River at Longview.
On her 100th birthday, Mrs. Pennington received recognition certificates from the Drew County Judge, the Mayor of Monticello, and the Honorable Mike Beebe, Governor of Arkansas.
Her legacy on earth will continue in the years to come. Her influence in the communities where she lived, in her church where she worshiped and served, and in her professional life, will be lasting; serving as a standard to be emulated by those who follow.
Surely, Mary Ethel “Mae” Pennington will be among those who hear the words of her Savior, “Well done, thy good and faithful servant…enter thou into the joy of the Lord.”
Funeral Service will be held on June 18, 2016 at 10 a.m. at the Stephenson-Dearman Funeral Home with Rev. Kenny Worbington officiating. Burial will follow at Green Hill Cemetery. Visitation is June 17 from 6 p.m. until 8 p.m. at the funeral home.