We are deeply sorry for your loss - the staff at Clark Funeral Home
It is with very heavy hearts that we inform you of the passing from this life of one of our community's most loved retired educators, Mrs. Mable (Heard) Holley, 86, a resident of 821 Strozier Street, Roanoke, Alabama. Mrs. Holley peacefully transitioned from this life on Friday, September 24, 2021, at her residence in Roanoke.
The Life and Legacy of Mrs. Mable (Heard) Holley)
Sunrise: 6/10/1935 ─ Sunset: 9/24/2021
The birth of Mable Heard Holley was like a graceful dance between an infant girl, her father, J.B. Heard, and her beloved mother, Viola (Hawkins) Heard. The date was June 10, 1935, Troup County, Georgia. From that moment forward Mable became the sunshine that lit up their remaining days. Though she wasn’t their only child, it was ordained for her to be a special one who would lay hands on this world and play a major role in helping shape generations both young and old.
Mable was one of nine siblings born to this parentage, which included: brothers: David, Will, Paul, A.D. and B.J.; and sisters: Annie Rea, Mae Lizzie and Sara; all having preceded her in death, with the exception of her sister Sara Heard Clark (Tobie), who now reside in Stanford, Connecticut.
On June 2, 1957 at 3:00 o’clock pm, just days before her 22nd birthday, Mable “Sylvia” Heard united in marriage with the love of her life, the late Willie Clyde Holley, in a Sunday afternoon wedding ceremony held at St. Paul Baptist Church in Roanoke. It was here that they established their home in the neighborhood known as “Hill City” leaving a very prominent footprint throughout our community.
It was clear to all that as marriage partners, they not only took seriously their covenant with each other but their covenant with Saint Paul Baptist Church, where they were among the strongest members of that church, respected givers, and participants. It was their presence at Saint Paul that helped to solidify the foundation of that church. Their marriage gave rise to the birth of their only son, Michael Bernard Holley. Michael’s marriage to the love of his life, Tammi Treadwell, expanded their nuclear family and blessed them exceedingly with two grandchildren and four great-grandchildren.
From an early age, she was a life-long member of Saint Paul Baptist Church in Roanoke, where she served as Finance Secretary for many years, Chairman of the Deaconess, and sung in the Choir. In the prime years of her life, she was also active with the East Alabama Union District Association, often representing Saint Paul. Mrs. Holley remained a steadfast member of Saint Paul well into her senior years, and even through her waning years ꟷ holding fast to God’s Unchanging Hand.
Mable Holley will long be remembered as a giver, who did a lot of good deeds for people that she didn't really talk about. For this cause, it is clear that she didn't do things for form or fashion, but she did kind things because she was a kind person. That’s just who she was.
Mrs. Holley attended the Historic Randolph County Training School in Roanoke, graduating with the Class of 1953.
Continuing her adventure toward the classroom, she enrolled at our beloved H.B.C.U., Alabama A & M In Huntsville, where she received her Bachelor Of Science Degree in Elementary Education. This teacher training served as her launching pad into the province of public Education, where ꟷ again ꟷ she left her deep footprint on the sands of time, along with a number of other influential black educators in Roanoke. As a public-school teacher in Roanoke, Alabama, Mable Holley earned her place among the finest educators in the community.
In the 1960’s Mrs. Holley began a long, impressive tenure ꟷ spanning twenty-six (26) years ꟷ as a public school teacher in Randolph County. From 1965 to 1967, she taught school at Pleasant Hill, in the Delta community. Later, she was assigned to teach at the Randolph County Training School (RCTS), where she was embraced, loved and mentored by such superb veteran teachers as: the late Mrs. Hattie Clark, Mrs. Carrie Winston, Mrs. Attrie B. Henderson, Mrs. Ida C. Shaw, Lilian V. Shealey; and many other great local “school moms” whom we all remember as “Old Pros”. Her career took shape under such strong administrators as: the late Mr. Herman L. Shaw, and Mr. Lewis R. Hoggs and Dr. Benjamin A. Outland. On July 24, 1970, she made history when she became one of the first African American teachers to desegregate Roanoke City Schools. She was hired to teach at Handley Middle School in Roanoke, where, again, she shined brightly. Her students remember her as a stern strong disciplinarian, who demanded respect, along with their best academic effort. There are many parents who today, have her to thank for holding their precious sons and daughters to the highest standards of excellence.
Like other veteran teachers who had mentored her, Mrs. Holley too became the inspiration, and a role model for younger aspiring teachers desiring to enter the field of education.
In 1991, after 26 years of successful, effective teaching, Mrs. Holley retired from Roanoke City Schools and settled into a more relaxed and self-propelled lifestyle.
One of Mrs. Holley’s most pivotal contributions to education locally was serving as an instrument through which the Roanoke City Schools successfully gained Unitary Status. This was important because achieving unitary status means that a school board has satisfied its desegregation obligations and that the Court's supervision of the school can therefore end. This status signaled an end to a decades-long and nationwide struggle to end racial segregation in public schools.
Coming of age in Roanoke, Mrs. Holley learned about the Order Of The Eastern Star, a fraternal organization made up of the wives, daughters, mothers, sisters, and widows of Master Masons. The wife of a Master Mason, she joined Roanoke’s Lily White Chapter #352, where she was deeply influenced by the late Sister Thelma Ware, the Worthy Matron (WM) at that time. Under Sister Ware, she learned everything about this great organization and its purposes: to live with high moral principles, unite in a spirit of charity, truth and loving-kindness. She accepted the belief that we are all part of the brotherhood of man, the sisterhood of woman, under a Fatherhood of God. She was eventually elevated to the office of Worthy Matron of the Lily White Chapter #352. Through this platform, she served our community admirably for thirty-one (31) years. Mrs. Holley raised substantial amounts of money, which she led her Eastern Star sisters in funneling back into the community in charitable ways that blessed hundreds of individuals and families. She led her chapter in reaching out to others in need, whenever and wherever a need was recognized, there was always a response from the Lily White Chapter. As its leader, she buried the dead; carried the symbolic five-pointed star at their funerals, conducted burial rituals, ministered to their families, and demanded the best of her sisters. As the Worthy Matron, she could eloquently recite the rituals of the adoptive rite with amazing precision and exactness. Her radiant example served to light the way for scores of young women in this community.
Without a shadow of a doubt, the last six years took their toll on her. At times, her brokenness and grief were painfully visible and yet with both valor and grace, she persisted in her difficult and challenging quest to survive beyond the loss of her beloved son, Michael (March 4, 2015), and her husband, Willie Clyde (March 28, 2017). But, having God's favor, Mable's last days were abundantly blessed by the presence of her loving and devoted daughter-in-law -- our Honorable Councilwoman -- Tammi, who -- just like Ruth demonstrated her unfailing compassion and support for her until the very end. Mable Holley was never alone from the dawning of her day on June 10, 1935 until she closed her eyes in death.
We are informed through the word of God in Psalm 90:10 that: "The days of our years are threescore years and ten; and IF by reason of strength they are fourscore years; yet is their strength labor and sorrow, for it is soon cut off and we fly away.”
An amazingly gifted, spirited woman of beauty, class, and intelligence, having lived abundantly for 86 magnificent years, Mable Holley came to the end of her journey and closed her eyes in death on Friday, September 24, 2021. She was at her home in Roanoke.
Remaining here to continue life’s tedious journey and cherish her many fond memories are: her very special daughter-in-law and caregiver Tammi (Treadwell) Holley; her grandchildren: Tevin Holley and Tonya Treadwell Rhodes (Edward); great-grandsons: Tyrik Treadwell, Tydrick Treadwell, and Taylon Treadwell; great-granddaughter, Taylor Rhodes, all of Roanoke, AL; nieces: Francis Maclin of Trussville, AL and Allison Heard of Atlanta, GA; nephews: Barry Heard and Ronnie Heard (Aleta) both of Atlanta, GA, and Greg Clark of Stanford, CT; perhaps hundreds of former students and colleagues whom she touched during her pilgrimage as an educator; and finally scores of sisters in the beautiful Order of The Eastern Star whose lives were influenced and shaped by her glowing example of class, loveliness, and charity.
The Holley family is grateful for the many expressions of kindness extended during our time of illness and bereavement due to the loss of our beloved mother, grandmother, sister and aunt. Your prayers, telephone calls, visits, gifts of food, and other courtesies have certainly helped to sustain us during this most difficult time. Thank you for showing your love in such abundance.
A special thanks goes to the staff at Compassus Hospice of Roanoke, AL; Her church family, Saint Paul Baptist Church, who -- in November of 2016 -- saw fit to honor her contributions and her life, long before it ended, and all who have supported her financially, spiritually, and emotionally when she needed it most.
A HUGE “THANK-YOU” to all of the caregivers who had a part in her life.
The Holley Family