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Millie Marthena was born to the late Simon and Isabelle Owens on April 20, 1938, in Bucksport, South Carolina. She peacefully departed into her eternal rest on March 2, 2021, at home in Columbia, South Carolina. She was predeceased by her loving husband of fifty-nine years, Edward McCray. Marthena grew up in a large, loving, and hard-working family in the Bucksport Community, where she attended the Richardson Training School. In 1956 she graduated from the Whittemore High School in Conway, SC.
After graduation, Marthena moved to Springfield, Massachusetts with her older sister, Mary. She began working at the Diamond Match Corporation shortly after arriving in Springfield. She was always a hardworking, caring, and very responsible young woman. In 1958 she brought her elementary-age and youngest sister, Laura, from South Carolina to live with her and attend school. Marthena attended Third Baptist Church in Springfield where she was actively involved. She reconnected with a hometown family friend, Edward McCray, who also lived in Springfield and attended the same church. Edward and Marthena were united in holy matrimony on March 11, 1961. Their mothers were good friends and were delighted to travel together and attend the joyous wedding of their children. To the union of Marthena and Edward were born three children, to whom she was a dedicated and attentive mother. They would regularly return to their hometown with their young children during the summers and eventually moved back, built a home, started a business and raised their children.
Marthena was always deeply committed to her family, her church, and her community. She was a strong advocate for ensuring that her family worked together, played together, and prayed together. In addition to working as the seamstress for the family clothing store, Marthena later worked at the Conway Textile Mill, where she retired. After retirement, she worked for the Horry County School District: at the district office, at Conway Elementary School, as a teacher’s aide, and as a bus driver. She also worked part-time at the Conway Wal-Mart Shopping Center.
Marthena enjoyed cooking, sewing, gardening, and sports, and was an avid bowler. She began bowling in Springfield with her niece, Pearl Griffin, and joined a local league in Conway. She and her close cousin and friend, Edna Robinson regularly held family gatherings, which they called, “pow-wows” ...family time filled with fun, food and challenging board games.
Marthena was a faithful member of the Jerusalem Chapel Missionary Baptist Church where she and her husband grew up and returned to raise their children. She served as a Deaconess, and a long-time member of the usher board. Marthena was also a member of the adult choir, Missionary Circle, and a Sunday School Teacher.
Marthena was a great mother, a loving wife, and a faithful daughter. She was the primary caregiver for her parents in their old age. She always cherished and deeply enjoyed the excitement of holidays and summer gatherings with her siblings and relatives. She was always a blessing to her community and those in need.
In July 2015, Marthena and Edward moved to Columbia, SC with their youngest daughter, Deborah. She enjoyed life in Columbia for five and a half years among her children and grandchildren and found comfort, cheer and received great care.
Marthena is preceded in death by six siblings: Edna Evans (Bill), Preston, and his wife, Clara, Robert Parnell, her twin sister, Millie-Christine, Vermell, and Pearson Chappell Owens.
She leaves to cherish her loving memory, three children: Constance Yvette (Wayne) Gregory of Philadelphia, PA; Edward Rondell (Melody) of Columbia, SC; one daughter of the home, Deborah Lynnette McCray; and one nephew whom she raised as a son, Pearson Sirayo Blakeney, of Philadelphia, PA. She also leaves seven grandchildren: John Simon, Philip Wayne, and Mark Edward Gregory all of Philadelphia, PA; Susanna (Riccardo) Arroyo of Greensboro, NC; Joanna Danielle, GraceAnna Gabrielle, and Johnathan Edward McCray all of Columbia, SC.
Marthena leaves four devoted siblings, Mary Ryan and Joe Nathan Owens, of Springfield, MA, Ruth Maddox of El Passo, TX and Laura (Council) Pickett of Newport News, VA; three sisters-in-love Susie Owens of Conway, SC; Mary Reese and Mildred McCray of Bucksport, SC.
She also leaves twenty-nine loving nieces, nephews, and a host of relatives, and friends to fondly cherish her loving memory.
Graveside services will be recorded and streamed live. In the event the service is interrupted at any time due to technical issues, the entire service will be uploaded and available to view later in the day. Please copy and paste the link to share, or simply click on the link to view the service.
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