Lillie M. Jenkins, 76 of Ridgeland, SC, passed away Sunday, May 22, 2022, at Ridgeland Nursing Center, Arrangements are entrusted to Allen Funeral Home. We welcome you to provide your thoughts and memories on our tribute wall.
Lillie M. Jenkins was born in Ridgeland, SC to the late Otis and Lena Jenkins and raised in the Ritter Quarters neighborhood of Tillman, SC and in New York City. She was a member of Mt. Mariah Baptist Church in Pineland, SC.
She was educated at Jasper County Public Night School and was a graduate of Technical College of the Lowcountry, Beaufort where she earned an associate degree in computer science. She worked as a secretary and was a long tenured employee of the local textiles manufacturer.
Lillie had a love of music and was a gifted singer and musician. She was a self taught keyboardist who was prompted to learn to play because of her congregation’s need for an accompanist. This proved to be an example of her lifelong trait of determination as she practiced on a self-made paper cardboard keyboard until she mastered the piano. She became the minister of music for several churches and was a private vocal and piano instructor.
Lillie used her talents to display her love of the Lord. In her younger years she was given the nickname “little Mahalia” because of her beautiful singing voice’s semblance to gospel legend Mahalia Jackson. Her voice was one that could make audiences rise to their feet and earned her long minutes of rousing applause. Lillie sang professionally with the gospel group Professor Johnson and the Johnson Singers. She travelled with the group around the country and appeared on the popular Merv Griffin television show. One of Lillie’s greatest joys was recording a duet with her daughter on her cd.
Lillie raised three children, Dennis, Gregory and Lena with the help of her family village. She raised them with a firm but always loving hand and saw them grow up to be successful in their careers - as a director in the federal government, a pastor and former sheriff of Jasper County, and a financial accounts professional.
Lillie taught her children to “never give up”. To illustrate this she would tell them, “if l’m drowning don’t tell me I’m not going to make it, throw me a straw - because you never know what you can do until you try” she would also say that “any decision that you don’t make will be made for you”.
Lillie had a tremendous love for her family, enjoyed people and was an avid reader. She had a keen sense of fashion and her clothing was always color-coordinated with one of her signature handkerchiefs and paired with one of her beloved fragrances. With a gracious smile and her gregarious personality, she loved giving words of encouragement to others. When she attended her grandson’s college graduation she reserved her loudest clap for him but enthusiastically clapped for each graduate in case a graduate didn’t have anyone in attendance to applaud their achievement. She was admired by many for her confidence, free spirit, fashion sense, inviting smile and willingness to help others. She never met a stranger. Whenever you met Lillie she was sure to make it memorable with her loving and generous countenance.
In addition to her parents, Lillie was preceded in death by her siblings, Carolyn Berry, Henrietta Biggs, Berdell Smalls, and Leon Jenkins.
Lillie leaves to mourn and miss her, children Dennis R. Jenkins, Gregory B. Jenkins and Lena O. B. Jenkins-Thomas; daughters-in-love Nadine Jenkins and Marcella Jenkins; sisters Christina Buckner and Reatha Garvin, and brother-in-law Leon Garvin; grandchildren Dennis Jenkins Jr., Regenia Jenkins, Shanae Thomas, Aleyshia Thomas, Daryl Thomas Jr., P’Rayjah Thomas, DaRon Thomas, Jaron Beckett, Terrell Beckett, and Ashley Brown; 9 great-grandchildren, goddaughters Lenora Moyd and Teresa Grant, godson Michael Jenkins and a multitude of loving nieces, nephews, cousins, and friends.