By Allen Payton
Today, we celebrate the life and home-going to Heaven of my grandmother, Mildred V. Allen, who passed away quickly and peacefully, last Thursday after almost 95 years of living, in Riverside, California.
Following is her eulogy and history, which I will be sharing at her memorial, this afternoon:
On February 27,1919, in Claredon,Texas, Mildred Violet was born to Perry Oscar and Ada Lillian Wood. She had five older brothers Otis, Lee, Perry, Ernest and B.L. and one older sister, Ruby. They lived in a small community outside of Clarendon called Martin. They were a farm family. Over the next five years, life for Mildred went along as well as could be expected. Then in 1924, at the age of five years, her Momma, Ada passed away. A very sad time for the entire family. A year later, her Papa married Lillie Durham who had a small boy. His name was Pete – another brother to play with. Over the next 13 years, her Papa and new momma added three more brothers, Lewie, Toy and Russell and five more sisters, Pearl, Carrie Bell, Geraldine, Flora Dee and Della. Even though some of the older children had either left home or got married, it was a houseful. Mildred was known as Sis, Sissy and Aunt Sis to her family members.
Mildred finished her formal school education at the end of her eighth grade year. The family attended church in Clarendon and at the age of 13 years she invited Jesus into her heart. After a couple of years, she moved into Clarendon to live and work for a doctor and his family. In February, 1936, she turned 17 years old. About this time she met a handsome 24 year old named Malcolm L. Allen. It was a short courtship because in July of that same year they went to Taos, New Mexico and got married. Not too long after, Mr. and Mrs. M. L. Allen packed up and moved to Southern California. They settled in Brawley in the Imperial Valley where some of Mildred’s older brothers and sister and families lived. One year later on July 28, 1937, a baby girl was born. They named her Mary DeeAnn. Now the fun really started!! But, the fun didn’t last, as M. L. and Mildred divorced in 1940. Mildred and DeeAnn stayed in California and M. L. went back to Texas, to live and work.
She went to work as a waitress at the food counter of Cox Brother’s Grocery Store in El Centro. A year or so later, she began waiting on a handsome dark curly haired man by the name of Jesse Fisher. But he went by the name of Pat. They began dating and fell in love. This all took place at the beginning of WWII. Pat was drafted into the Army and was eventually stationed up in Kodiak, Alaska. Lots of letters and pictures were sent back and forth. Upon Pat’s medical release from the service in May,1943, after injuring his back falling on the ice, Mildred took the bus up to San Jose, California where she was reunited with him. On May 8, 1943, they were married.
Pat’s sister, Juanita and husband, Jim lived in San Jose. So Pat, Mildred and five year old DeeAnn decided to stay and live there too. After living in a small apartment they bought a home on First Street where on August 23, 1944, a cute baby sister for DeeAnn to play with was born. They named her Patricia Yvonne.
In May, 1945 Pat and Mildred decided to move to Riverside, California where many of Mildred’s family members were then residing. For a few months, Pat, Mildred, DeeAnn and Patricia lived with Mildred’s sister and brother-in-law, Ruby and Earl Humphrey and their two girls, Earlene and Beverly. What fun for DeeAnn and baby Patricia to have cousins to play with again. A few months later, Pat and Mildred bought a small home on Park Avenue.
Since Mildred’s brother Lee and his wife, Jewel and family and Earl and Ruby and girls were members of the Riverside First Baptist Church, Pat and Mildred and girls attended there.
At that time the church was located downtown on Ninth and Lemon Streets. Pat and Mildred
joined the church officially and were members of the young married’s class called The Builders Class. Over the next few years Mildred grew spiritually as she actively became involved with various Women’s Ministry Committees and Bible studies and visitation program.
During the 1950/51 school year, Mildred started her career as a cafeteria worker for the Riverside School’s Food Department. She worked part-time at Magnolia Elementary.
From there she went to the Tiger’s Den at Riverside Jr. College then became the Manager of the lunch stand at the old campus of Poly High. When North High School was built she went there for a brief period and then switched to the new campus of Poly High where she managed both the lunch stand and cafeteria. After 24 years, she retired in 1974 from the school district. But, she continued to plan, prepare and cater Church dinners, wedding receptions and parties.
She and Pat hosted many family dinners and parties and continued to serve on committees at Church. During these busy years, she taught her daughters by her example how to cook, care for a home and serve others.
Also during these years, she became a mother-in-law to two fine young men, whom she thought of as her sons, as well as grandmother to six grandchildren. DeeAnn married Roger A. Payton in 1956. In November, 1958, the first two of Roger and DeeAnn’s children were born – Marilee Ann and Maridee Lynn. In August, 1960, another baby girl was born, Ellen Rae. In June, 1963, a baby boy was born – Allen Denford.
In June, 1964, Patricia (whom we then started calling Patti) married Larry W. Keisling. In April, 1969, their baby boy was born – Curtis Wayne. Then in May, 1972, Cara Yvonne was born. Pat and Mildred did a lot of gift giving and babysitting. Then in the 1980’s, ‘90’s and 2000’s, 13 great grandchildren and 3 great great grandchildren came into the family. Even though the families have scattered, Mildred has always sent birthday cards and gifts to each of her grandchildren.
In June, 1994, after some months of illness, Pat passed away. Even in her grieving Mildred remained strong, as she relied on the Lord.
That fall, she decided to go up to Roger and DeeAnn’s in Northern California, for Thanksgiving. She found out that M.L., who’s wife Alberta had passed the a fews year before, was also going to be there. Since she had remained friends with M.L. through the years, she called him and asked him to pick her up on his way from Tucumcari, New Mexico, which he did.
After a week there, showing much affection, including the gift of a new necklace Mildred was wearing, M.L. drove her back to Riverside. But, about 15 minutes after arriving to his home, he called to check on her and let her know he was home safe. About a week later, Mildred called Roger and DeeAnn and invited the family down to Riverside for Christmas and said they were going to plan a wedding. They were married the following February 25, 1995 at First Baptist. Mildred and M.L. were back together again, almost 55 years later.
So the person us grand kids knew all our lives as Grandma Fisher, was now Grandma Allen.
Over the next year or so, Mildred and M.L. sold his farm in Tucumcari, moved him into her Riverside home, which they remodeled, adding a master bathroom and enlarging the family room. For the next 16 years, they traveled, went camping in their trailer, joined the Gideons and served faithfully at First Baptist Church and almost every Thursday night they ate at their favorite restaurant, the Little Green Onion.
Then in 2011, a little over five months after M.L. celebrated his 100th birthday, he passed away on Memorial Day, May 31st. Mildred was a widow, once again.
She continued to serve in the church and drive her big Cadillac to and from church and the Plaza shopping center – even up until last year. Then, earlier this year, Mildred agreed to move into the Galleria View Villa residential care home in Riverside, leaving her home of over 50 years. She enjoyed her new home and the people who cared for her.
But her health continued to deteriorate, with both her eyesight and hearing failing. She reached out to the other residents and was very bold in sharing with them her faith in the Lord.
Then this past week, after suffering a mild heart attack she was admitted to Kaiser hospital, where she had another one, last Thursday. Later that afternoon, with Patti by her side, just before 5:30 p.m., after about an hour of fading, Mildred slipped into eternity to be with her Heavenly Father and Savior Jesus Christ.
Written by M. DeeAnn Payton and Allen Payton