Mattie Carroll Persley was born on August 30, 1925 in Sapulpa, OK to Rev. Andrew E. Smith and Mrs. Idella Smith. Eighteen months later, Mrs. Smith passed on. Growing up without her mother taught Mattie to be the “independent cuss” whom we all came to love. Despite her fiercely independent streak, Mattie’s love of family shone through in all that she did, including learning to cook at age eight, driving home the mules for her brothers, and teaching her father to read.
Mattie graduated from Booker T. Washington High School in Sapulpa, OK in 1943 and went on to attend classes at Langston University. In 1946, Mattie moved to Kansas City, MO to assist her cousin in rearing her children. In the apartment building where they lived, one of the neighbors was a handsome carpenter. Though Mattie was often diffident towards suitors, over time that carpenter, Samuel Persley, won her heart and they were married on September 18, 1948.
The young couple bought their first home in a vibrant neighborhood and began their stairstep family; Carol Esther, born November 1951; Samuel James, Jr., born May 1953; Marsha Michelle, born May 1955. As a birthday present to her husband, Mattie bore their youngest daughter, Kathryn Renee, on his birthday in January 1957. The young family grew and thrived in their home, but the interstate highway system had other plans.
Faced with eminent domain, Samuel and Mattie bought a plot of land in the Dunbar neighborhood in 1959. The family went to work building their new home with Mattie acting as site manager. She accomplished this feat all while feeding, bathing and wrangling four young children. The family moved into the basement on August 1, 1959 and completed the home Christmas Eve of that year. Mattie then gave birth to her youngest child, Andrew Perry, in February 1960.
Mattie committed her time to nurturing her home, while also having time for outside endeavors, all revolving around her children’s school, her family’s church, and her community. Taking an active role in her children’s education, teachers, staff, and administrators often lauded her seeming omnipresence at the school. This led her to serve on multiple PTA boards, and Mattie’s voice could always be heard at her children’s sporting events. Mattie was a proud leader for her daughters’ Campfire Girls of America troop and den mother for her sons’ Cub Scouts of America group. At Allen Chapel AME, Mattie served as a Sunday school teacher, choir member, children’s choir director and a member of the Trustee Helpers.
Mattie embodied the proverb that it takes a village to raise a child. Her house was a neighborhood hub of activity where she would offer a home cooked meal, a course of correction, and sage advice. By molding a kinder, smarter community, Mattie truly improved the lives of so many.
Mattie is preceded in death by her parents and brothers, Titus and Nathaniel Smith, sister, Mabel Rushing, son, Samuel James Persley, Jr., and husband, Samuel James Persley, Sr. Left to honor Mattie are her son, Andrew Persley, his cherished wife, Nancy Persley, her daughters, Kathryn Persley, Marsha Allen-Persley, and Carol Persley, her daughter-in-law, Angela Persley, her grandsons, James Odom and Thomas Persley, her granddaughters, Loren Persley and Alexandra Persley, her great grandchildren, Jai’Lynn Odom and Liam Casey-Odom, David Rushing, Mabel’s son as well as a host of nephews, nieces, family, and friends.
Funeral services Thursday, December 2, at 10:00am at Oak Grove Missionary Baptist Church. Interment Leavenworth National Cemetery. Visitation 9:00am-10:00am at the church. Service conducted by Lawrence A. Jones & Sons Funeral Chapel. Condolences may be shared on our website.
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