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Mamie Sylvia Tennant Killingsworth was born on June 21,1938 in Abbeville, South Carolina to the late William Henry Tennant and Mamie Louise Bauknight Tennant. She was reared by her grandmother, the late Minnie Florence Davis Bauknight. Mamie was preceded in death by her two siblings, William Henry Tennant and Andrew Wilbur Tennant.
Sister Killingsworth passed away peacefully at her home on Sunday, August 6, 2023. Mamie was a life-long resident of Abbeville and enjoyed the small-town atmosphere. The city allowed her to spend hours talking to community members on the square, the grocery store, and local events.
From a very young age, Mamie was known to have an extreme passion for music. Music was her first love, and she loved all genres. However, her favorite was gospel music. At the age of 12, she started serving as a musician in church school and progressed to junior choir, assistant organist, and eventually served as the pianist and organist at St. James A.M.E. Church for 65 years until her health declined. She was also the accompanist pianist for the current youth choir at St. James.
In addition to St. James, Mamie played at several churches including Campfield Baptist, Mt. Pleasant Baptist, Little River Baptist (where she was also First Lady), and locations in Washington, DC and New York City. The chords of Mrs. Killingsworth could be heard throughout places of worship as she played numerous hymns and songs with confidence, excitement, and always displaying God’s holy spirit. She was famously known for her rendition of “Just A Closer Walk with Thee.”
Mrs. Killingsworth passed this musical passion on to her daughters, and she trained them in piano as well as gospel singing. As a result of her teachings, the Killingsworth Gospel Singers was formed, and this group was fortunate to sing in several southern and northern states and had a weekly radio station broadcast. WZLA-FM was a supporter for the family, and Mamie was known to listen every Sunday for the gospel program and frequently called in to make requests for her preferred songs.
Family was extremely important to this musician who was married to her high school sweetheart, the late Rev. Willie Killingsworth, for 54 years. To their union, three daughters were born: Sylvia Floise Killingsworth Rice of Abbeville, SC, Wilvia Minileta Killingsworth of Greenwood, SC, and Mamie Earlineta Killingsworth Fisher (Larry) of Greenwood, SC.
Mamie was educated in the Abbeville public schools. She was a proud graduate of the 1957 Class of JS Wright High School. She also furthered her education with studies in music at Allen University and education courses at Piedmont Technical College. She instilled the importance of education and success in her daughters and grandchildren. She was often seen celebrating their accomplishments with joy. She loved being a mother and grandmother!
While family was extremely important to Mrs. Killingsworth, she knew that it was crucial to always follow the tempo of God. Therefore, her faith and love for God was the main source of her strength, and her connection to God was evident in all aspects of her life.
She became a Christian at an early age and joined St. James A.M.E. where she participated in all aspects of the AME faith until her health declined. She was the oldest living Mother of the Church and served on numerous ministries which included the Fair Redd Massey Women’s MissionarySociety, the Local Lay Organization, Stewardess Emeritus, Pulpit Aide, Booster Club, and the Church Music Committee.
When in Mamie’s presence, it was evident that she was stylish with fuchsia being her favorite color, was sophisticated, loved life, and enjoyed being with others. She was oftenobserved cooking for family, traveling, celebrating others, and being in the spotlight!
Mamie had a beautiful spirit, and her melodious persona will forever be remembered by her devoted daughters previously mentioned, her grandchildren (Donald Lee Rice, Jr. of Abbeville, SC, Willie Earlenzo Killingsworth of Greenwood, SC who was reared in the home, Rodekescia Rene Coleman of Abbeville, SC, and Jimmeca LeAnna Tinch of Greenwood, SC); great grandchildren (identical grandsons – Roderick Earlenzo Coleman and Romeo Rene’ Coleman, Faith Unique Maddison Rubin, and Justice LeAnna Connor); brother-in-laws (Alvin Killingsworth of Abbeville, SC, John (Martha) Killingsworth of Upatoi, GA, and Claude Killingsworth of Greenwood, SC); sister-in-laws (Annie K. Terry of Abbeville, SC, Barbara Killingsworth of Calhoun Falls, SC, and Linda Killingsworth of Greenwood, SC); cousin/sister (Shirley Booth of Washington, DC); sister/friend (Betty Crawford of Atlanta, GA) and goddaughter, Dr. Denise Cosby Collier (Dale). She also leaves behind a host of additional relatives and friends that cherish their memories of her.
Special acknowledgements are also extended to several persons who were considered Mamie’s “angels on earth” when her health declined. They unselfishly provided love and care to her. They are Lila Ray, LT Wharton, Diane Baskin, Mr. and Mrs. Robert Ashe, Janie Aiken, Santrell Holback, and Elizabeth “Liz” Thackson. There were also additional caregivers too many to name that we are so appreciative of.