Object Lessons: Rantings of a Lone Pamphleteer
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The Unofficial Obit

Mrs. Mildred Ivy, 88, March 15, 2005 in Winston-Salem, NC, after a short illness.

Mildred Pauline Jennings was born in 1916, in Attalla County, MS to Willie Palmer and Anna Irene (Gordon) Jennings. One of nine children, Mrs. Ivy was raised in the Ozarks, and attained only a sixth-grade education. She met and married Hamilton Ivy, a man who gave up liquor for her, as she consistently refused to marry a drinking man. The couple married at the height of the Depression, in 1934.

The family lived in Arkansas and Mississippi, where they farmed, ran a daycare out of their home, and raised two daughters, Sue and Janie Pauline, born 10 years apart. Mrs. Ivy ran the cafeteria at a Naval bomb factory during WWII.

The Ivy’s ended up in Huntsville, TX, where both worked for the Texas Dept. of Criminal Justice, Goree Unit. The Goree Unit was a women’s prison almost until her retirement. She was proud that she only ever got “jumped” once, and was saved by her husband, a guard at the same facility. Captain Ivy was famous among female inmates for giving people a fair deal. Even the Chaplain who cheated with the inmates (“and him a married man”) was treated with the respect his office deserved. It took her years to get rid of him.

During her Texas years, Mrs. Ivy obtained her GED, and took college courses in psychology to advance her career.

In 1980, the prison system reassigned the Goree Unit as a men’s prison. Unwilling to give up her “20 years,” Mrs. Ivy went so far as to retrain on new artillery to maintain her position. The 5’ grandmother shot a bazooka at age 64, an experience she didn’t regret, though after keeling over backwards, she switched from the dress to the pants uniform.

During her 20-year tenure, she received several “Never Missed a Day” awards, which hung on her wall until her death. Mrs. Ivy attained the rank of Captain, Night Warden, a position she held until retiring in 1981. Tragically, her husband, 8 years her senior, passed away only a few months later. Mrs. Ivy lived with Janie’s family in Miami and Brazil before settling in North Carolina. She traveled to Mississippi and Texas for extended stays with her sister, and daughter Sue.

She lived her belief that cleanliness was next to godliness. Her mantra’s resonate simple wisdom: “A place for everything and everything in its place,” and “Nothing to it but to do it.” She lived her life according to her strong Baptist faith, but never judged those who practiced differently, so long as they practiced “in a good, honest church.” She encouraged hard work and education among her family. In her last days, she spoke often of the siblings she had lost. Mrs. Ivy was also proud of having read the Bible in its entirety three times through.

She often said her one regret was not getting all the education she wanted. She is survived by 3 Masters, 6 Bachelors, and ten great-grandchildren, ages 9 to 19.

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