Willie Pearl Elmore Strickland, Aug. 22, 1929 — July 4, 2014, of Columbia

Wednesday, July 9, 2014 | 7:46 p.m. CDT; updated 8:17 p.m. CDT, Wednesday, July 9, 2014

COLUMBIA — Willie Pearl Elmore Strickland, 84, our beloved mother and friend peacefully passed away on Friday, July 04, 2014 at her home in Columbia, MO.

She was born on August 22, 1929 in Jackson, MS to Willie Mack and Abe Elmore. She received her formal education in the Jackson Public Schools (MS) and her college education from Tougaloo College (MS). She was joined in marriage for 62 years to Dr. Arvarh E. Strickland, Professor Emeritus of History of the University of Missouri, and they were blessed with two children.

Willie Pearl was dedicated to community uplift and worked tirelessly for over 40 years as teacher and life educator in Mississippi, Louisiana, Illinois and Missouri. She taught 3rd grade at Lee Elementary School in the Columbia Public School District from August 1974 up until her retirement in July 1992. Being of service to the community was important to her and anchored by her committed membership in Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Incorporated. Her call to service was so great that she, along with fifteen other like-minded women, chartered and formed the Kappa Chi Omega Chapter of AKA in 1976 in the City of Columbia.

A rare pearl, a unique soul with an unmatchable drive and spirit, Willie Pearl was most known for her compassion for others, her witty sense of humor, her Southern cooking and love of food, traveling and her endearing love for her family, her church and sorority. She was the embodiment of Southern hospitality, charm and grace. She is survived by her sons, Duane (Hope) of Indianapolis, IN and Bruce (Stephanie) of Dubai, UAE; four granddaughters: Janae, Rachael (Andy), Gabriella and Nia; four grandsons: Marcell, Matthew, Stephan and Quincy; and one great-granddaughter, Pearl Virginia; and, one great grandson, Sullivan Wells. She will be missed by a host of cousins, nieces and along with the many MU students who they “adopted” into their extended family, along with her life-long friends and sorority sisters.

Friends will be received, from 5:00-7:00 pm, Friday, July 11, 2014, at the Millard Family Funeral Home, 12 E. Ash Street, Columbia, MO. During this time, a lasting tribute will be made by the ladies of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Incorporated.

An additional visitation will take place from 10:00 a.m. to 11:00 a.m. Saturday, July 12, 2014 at the Missouri United Methodist Church, 204 South Ninth Street, Columbia, MO where services will follow at 11:00 a.m. with the Reverend Amy L. Gearhart, officiating. Entombment will follow at Memorial Park Cemetery.

In lieu of cards and flowers, memorial donations are being accepted in her name to the Kappa Chi Omega Chapter of AKA Scholarship Fund, Landmark Bank, Columbia, MO. Words of condolences and expressions can be sent online at

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