Willie Mae Elam was affectionately known as “Pig China” to her elder cousins and “Miss Willie Mae” to most other people. She was born November 22, 1919, in Lincolnton, Georgia. She was the only child to Homer and Matilda (China) Reid.
Throughout Willie Mae’s early childhood, she attended a one-room schoolhouse learning the basics of the 3Rs – “reading, riting, rithmetic”. She loved her teachers and spoke often of one of her favorites, Professor Grier, who helped to mold and shape her life.
On November 27, 1938, Sam Green Elam, the love of her life, took her hand in marriage. Sam was born February 17, 1908. On August 6, 2005, he passed away at the age of 97. They were happily married for 67 years.
Sam and Willie Mae gave birth to 12 children. She was further preceded in death by her children, Ida Mae Elam, I L Elam, Janet Elam and Easter Lillie Elam. She is survived by eight loving and devoted children; Redia (J.D.) Elam, Yvonne Norman (Paul, Deceased), Lillian (Richard) Martin, Samuel Elam, Otis (JoAnne) Elam, Willie Ray Elam (Jessie Mae, Deceased), Ginger (Jerry) Peters, Tony Elam (Diane, Deceased), and Ronnie (Brenda) Elam who was adopted and raised as a son after the death of his Mother, Janet.
Willie Mae truly loved all of her children and was a great Mother to her very own, as well as a Mother to those grandchildren who she and Sam raised and provided nurturing care under their roof. Further, she was an honorary and surrogate Mother to so many “children” in the Lincoln County community and across the Count. She leaves to cherish her precious memories a loving legacy of grandchildren…Phil, Connie, Lawanda, Kelvin, Ron, Gary, Randy, Teddy, Roxanne, Valeka, Tywan, Niecey, Torre, Navarre, Crisie, Copeland, Jarvis, Triston and Daylen and growing generations of great grand children and great, great grand children.
Willie Mae loved the Lord and her home-church, Mulberry CME, where she was a dedicated member who served faithfully until the 2020 Pandemic caused her Church to close. During this time, her health declined, thereby limiting her active involvement.
Willie Mae was honored to be the second oldest member of Mulberry. She was exceeded only by her dear 1st Cousin, Miss Mary Frances Leverett who recently celebrated her 105th birthday.
Willie Mae faithfully served on Mulberry’s Stewardess Board for over 50 years and was ultimately elevated to the status of Stewardess Emeritus. She served diligently as a member of the Missionary Society. She was entrusted to serve as a signatory on the Church’s checking account for many years.
You would always find her in her ‘special seat’ in the Women’s Amen Corner at Mulberry Church, ever-so excited, willing and anxiously ready to present one of her favorite poems or any other task she was called on to do.
Willie Mae was a civic-minded citizen of Lincoln County, serving as a member of The Twilight Improvement Association and also serving as a member of the Lincoln County Chapter of NAACP. She was an active poll worker for many of her voting years, always encouraging others to exercise their right to vote.
Willie Mae was a life-long member of two societies… Sons and Daughters of Bethlehem Society, Newberry Baptist Church, Lincolnton, Georgia (1907 – Still in existence) as well as the Mulberry Christian Society, Lincolnton, Georgia (1913 – Dissolved 2022). Both organizations were founded to provide aid to the sick and to help bury the dead.
During her many years spent working in the Lincoln County High School cafeteria where she retired, she is remembered for putting endless smiles on students’ faces by “sneaking” them an extra homemade delicious yeast roll upon their request while coming through the lunch line.
Mrs. Willie Mae was a Southern Christian Lady who believed in the tradition of ladies being dressed appropriately for Church. She loved hats, scarves and jewelry. She would express those values in her feminine decorum of class and poise. She was always fashionably well-coordinated with beautiful hats while draped in strings of stunning pearls.
Until her recent years, she enjoyed cooking and feeding everyone who entered her home at the “Little Red Brick House on the Hill”. During her days of cooking, she would make coconut, pineapple and chocolate layer cakes that were so delicious. Occasionally she would bake her patented homemade fruitcake. For her grandchildren, she would spoil them by preparing some of their favorite treats like old-fashioned hoecakes, date balls, fudge and her ‘delicious’ cornbread with crispy edges.
Mrs. Willie Mae was very joyful at all times and loved to spread this joy to other people. She was consistently positive and uplifting. When asked, “How are you doing?”, she would gratefully reply, “I’m Present”.
She loved all people, both young and old! Her personality and spirit were infectious and contagious thus explaining the magnitude of her popularity in the Lincolnton community. When you met her, you immediately felt her warmth, care and motherly love.
Mrs. Willie Mae Elam was our ‘earthly angel’ who has been eternally elevated by God to her Heavenly assignment. She will always be loved and certainly missed!
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