COLUMBIA – Teresa Ireland recalls a time when her son, Travis Austin Ireland, and her late mother, Lillie Mae Fletcher, were sitting at a picnic table together having lunch. While they were eating, a blue jay perched oddly close to Mrs. Fletcher. Animals knew what kind of person she was.
“She took in animals that needed her help,” her daughter, Teresa Ireland, said. “Whether it was a little bird or a dog.”
Teresa Ireland said her childhood home was always filled with the squawks, barks and meows. Mrs. Fletcher's latest animal was a cat named Dot, whom she nicknamed “her little treasure.”
Lillie Mae Fletcher died Thursday, Jan. 24, 2013, at University Hospital. She was 79.
Lillian Mae Fletcher was born Oct. 17, 1933 in Lyons County, Ky., to Henry and Helen (Scott) Downing. On June 11, 1956, she married her husband, William Howard Fletcher. He died earlier in 1978. She gave to local shelters and Humane Society organizations, and always tried to find a good home for stranded animals.
“She was a kind and quiet woman, but when she saw an animal being mistreated, she said something,” Teresa Ireland said.
Her affection was not limited to animals. She also loved her family very much.
Once, Teresa Ireland said, a stranger approached her brother, Howard "Keith" Fletcher, and asked him how he got to be so wonderful.
"I had the best mother in the world," he replied.
Mrs. Fletcher's friends would come to her with questions about faith because she was always reading the Bible.
“She was a good Christian woman,” Teresa Ireland said. “She was a mother and grandmother to everyone even if they didn’t know her."
Lillie is survived by her children: Howard “Keith” Fletcher and Teresa Ellen Ireland, both of Columbia; her siblings: Carl Downing of Birmingham, Ala., and Carol Ann Lee of Crofton, Ky.; grandchildren: Brian Trinidy Fletcher of Orange, Calif., Brooke Michelle Fletcher of Columbia, and Travis Austin Ireland of Round Rock, Texas; great-grandchildren: Helena and Isaac William Ireland, both of Round Rock, Texas; and numerous nieces and nephews.
The memorial service will be Sunday, Jan. 27, 2012, at 3 p.m., at Memorial Funeral Home, 1217 Business Loop 70 W. There will be a visitation one hour before the service. Memorial donations may be made to the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, the Central Missouri Humane Society or to Second Chance Animal Shelter.