***Please note that the church has requested that all service participants wear masks while inside.***
Ms. Flora J. “Jean” McAfee, 86, of Elkhart, passed away peacefully at the Center for Hospice Care in Mishawaka on Wednesday, October 6, 2021 at 11:05 pm following an extended illness. Not that she didn’t love her time here on Earth, but her Heavenly Father has called her Home and we’d like to think that Mother Jean has embarked on a brand new exciting journey with her Lord!
Jean was born on March 17, 1935 in Martin, Tennessee to the late Lenwood and Florenia “Reen” (Anderson) Wilkens. She was raised into a very, very large and extended family, and over the years several of the siblings and relatives moved off to different locations, leaving many out of touch with each other. Never the one to be left alone, Jean simply decided that you don’t have to be “blood” to be “family” and developed a huge network of “relatives” and friends of her own. Topping that list is her beloved “daughter” Daosha L. Massey of Elkhart, who has spent the majority of her adult life assisting and caring for her dear Jean. She is also survived by Daosha’s son Julian Massey, whom she doted over like any loving grandma would; as well as a step-daughter JoAnn McAfee of Augusta, Georgia; son-in-law Gene Sanders, Sr. of Elkhart and his son Gene Jr., who also lives in Elkhart; and a boatload of children and grandchildren, all whom she raised as her own. She supposed that she had at least one brother still living, but she never knew for sure. She was also preceded in death many years ago by her husband Josephus, a daughter, and, more recently, by her two furry companions Missy and Muffy the dogs.
Jean’s family has decided to celebrate her life on Saturday, October 16, 2021 at Pilgrim Rest Missionary Baptist Church, 802 W. Garfield Avenue, Elkhart, at 12:00 noon, with visitation beginning there at 11:00 am. Pastor Danny T. Brown will officiate and burial will follow services at Rice Cemetery in Elkhart. Billings Funeral Home and Cremation Services of Elkhart has been assisting the family with the arrangements.
Jean worked for over 30 years in the printing room at the Elkhart Truth, beginning as a type setter, which was an occupation that required good eyesight, pin-point accuracy and a good command of spelling and the English language. Her story, though, reflects more about the person she was at home rather than at work.
Now, anybody that knew Jean also knew that she LOVED to go out to eat; and everybody that knew her also knew that this lady wasn’t but a hundred pounds dripping wet, so how she could regularly visit her favorite spots like Olive Garden or Red Lobster (or Ryan’s, back in the day) without gaining any weight was ANYone’s guess. And if Jean got tired of her usual fare, she’s always be down with trying out someplace new.
Jean’s love affair with the culinary arts wasn’t just limited to visiting restaurants, either. Jean could cook, fry, bake, poach, fricassee, sautee, roast, broil, simmer, grill, steam or stew just about anything that would hold still long enough for somebody to catch and clean it. And if Jean had some cookin’ to do, then it was mandatory that she make a run to Martin’s so she wouldn’t be short of anything. Martin’s was Jean’s “happy place” and she could spend hours there if she wasn’t careful. Once completed, Jean’s recipes had everyone running to her house to get a bite of her sweet potato pie, sweet and sour meatballs, neck bones, her special cabbage or “Ziggy’s Custard Pie”. Oh, and don’t forget the mandatory pancake breakfast if you happened to be visiting Jean early in the day. And if all that food wasn’t enough, Jean always kept a freezer full of popsicles and other snacks because, for whatever reason, everyone chose Jean as the official neighborhood mom and grandma, and there was always a constant flow of kids and visitors coming to pay Jean a visit.
Through her cooking, hospitality and her gracious kindness, Jean earned the reputation of having a heart of gold. Her “family” was the center of her universe and knowing that so many folks unofficially depended on ger gave her the strength needed to move throughout her day with joy and pride. She was a very devout Christian lady and served on the Usher Board and the Kitchen Committee (of course) down at Pilgrim Rest. She also loved watching Ellen DeGeneres on TV and laughing to Steve Colbert’s jokes later in the evening.
Memorial donations may be given to the charity of one’s choice. Friends and relatives are encouraged to read the entire obit and leave condolences, memories and/or pictures of Jean by clicking “Tribute Wall” on her obituary page on the funeral home’s website and then following the prompts.
***Please note that the church has requested the use of masks during the service***
To send flowers to the family or plant a tree in memory of Flora Jean "Jean" (Wilkens) McAfee, please visit our floral store.