TUPELO – Eugene Mosby “Gene” Clement died peacefully in his sleep after a long period of declining health on Monday, April 26, in Tupelo, Mississippi at the home of his daughter. The 11th of 12 children, Gene was born on May 5, 1931, in Pontotoc to Dr. George Lowery and Annie (Dempsey) Clement in their home right off the Courthouse Square by the Methodist Church. His early life was filled with fun as he played up and down the city streets. When he was thirteen years old, Gene’s mother died which had a great impact on his life. His father instilled in him a lifelong love of fishing, and they made many memories at “The Clubhouse” (now known as the Nettleton Fox Hunting and Fishing Club). In his last days he yearned to catch just one more fish.
During his years at Pontotoc High School Gene excelled in all sports. “Speedy Clement,” as he was known on the football field, was also a stand-out player on the basketball, baseball and track teams. After graduating from Pontotoc High School, he continued his studies and his sports at Itawamba Junior College, playing both football and baseball, as well as serving in the National Guard. When his Guard unit was activated during the Korean War, his service continued as a proud member of the 31st Infantry “Dixie” Division of the U.S. Army at Ft. Jackson, South Carolina. Upon discharge Gene returned to IJC and completed his education.
He married his childhood sweetheart, Marilyn Abernethy, on June 19, 1951. They were married 67 years until her death in 2018. Gene and Marilyn made their home in “Happy Hollow” in Pontotoc where they were blessed with two daughters, Beverly and Melanie. During his career, Gene worked in various roles at several local businesses as well as being a sales representative for Armstrong Flooring Company of Memphis. Ultimately, he retired at age 70 after working for 20 years at First National Bank (First Choice Bank) where he enjoyed visiting with his former coworkers in his later years.
In 2005 Gene and Marilyn left their beloved Pontotoc, relocating to Tupelo to be near their daughters. In 2014 they moved to Mitchell Center of the Traceway Retirement Community where he continued to make new friends and used his sense of humor to bring joy to the residents and staff. To be able to be with his family during the pandemic Gene lived with his daughter Beverly and her husband Steve before returning to Mitchell Center in November 2020.
To know Gene was to love him. He always had a smile on his face and a twinkle in his eye. He was well known for making people laugh with his joke telling. Although it is a much-used phrase, Gene truly never met a stranger, being voted Friendliest Man in Pontotoc. He was consistently seen at funeral visitations of those he knew well or even barely at all. He was the model father, never missing his daughters’ music recitals, church programs, or performances when they were growing up. That support continued in every facet of their adult lives. He was a sweet, gentle spirit and a loving caregiver to his “Happy Hollow” neighbors, his father, his in-laws, and most importantly to his wife. Above all he was kind and respectful to everyone.
For his entire life, Gene was a member of First United Methodist Church in Pontotoc, faithfully attending Sunday morning and evening services, Wednesday prayer meeting, and any other time the church doors were open. He loved his church where he was a member of the Twelve Plus Sunday School Class and served as an usher, Sunday School Superintendent, member of the Administrative Board, Pastor-Parish Relations Committee, as well as singing in the adult choir when his wife Marilyn was the director. At the time of his death he had been a member of the church longer than anyone in the congregation.
A true and lifelong Pontotoc Warrior, Gene attended high school sporting events into his 80s. When he was no longer able to go in person he was sure to listen on the radio. He was also an avid Ole Miss football fan, and he and his family were season ticket holders for decades. He shared his knowledge and love of sports with his daughters, teaching them the rules of the game from the time they were little girls.
Gene was a proud veteran and attended the annual reunions of the 31st Infantry Division. He received numerous awards from that organization, as well as the Sonny Montgomery Award for his dedicated service to all veterans. He loved his country, listening to its patriotic music, and saluting its flag.
He is survived by his daughters, Beverly (Steve) McAlilly and Melanie Clement; brother George (Bobbie) Clement; brother-in-law and sister in-law, Dr. and Mrs. Cecil (Patsy Abernethy) Jenkins and sister-in-laws, Nancy Abernethy Sharp, Barbara Clement and Annis Clement and several nieces and nephews. He was preceded in death by his wife, Marilyn; and his siblings: Annie Clyde, Mildred, Ethel, LaPearl, Carolyn, Fred, Robert, Charles, Francis and Sidney.
His daughters are grateful for the loving staff at Mitchell Center who cared for him like family as well as Kindred Home Hospice for their care the last 4 months of his life.
A Service of Death and Resurrection will be held on Wednesday, April 28, 2021 at 4:00 P.M. at First United Methodist Church in Pontotoc with The Rev. Brad Hodges and The Rev. Kenneth Corley officiating. Burial will follow at Pontotoc City Cemetery. Pallbearers will be Steve McAlilly, Bill Rice, Bob McGee, Joe Johnson, Q.T. Tutor and Johnny Campbell. Holland Funeral Directors – Tupelo Chapel are entrusted with the arrangements.
Visitation will be held in the sanctuary at the church before the service beginning at 2:00 P.M. In lieu of flowers, memorial donations can be made to First United Methodist Church, P.O. Box 308, Pontotoc, MS 38863, or Mississippi Methodist Senior Services, P.O. 1567, Tupelo, MS 38802.
The family requests that everyone wear a mask. The service will be livestreamed on the Facebook pages of Pontotoc First United Methodist Church and Holland Funeral Directors.