Willene slipped into the presence of Her Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, on March 27, 2012, following a period of declining health.
Willene Holcomb was born the fourth child of Frank and Mary Burke Holcomb on May 4, 1918, in Habersham County.
A quiet person who did countless good deeds for others, Willene touched the lives of many people, not only her family and friends but hundreds upon hundreds of students whom she taught. She was preceded in death by her brother, Dr. Paul Holcomb and sister-in-law, Louise F. Holcomb; and her sister, Lorene Holcomb English and brother-in-law, David English.
She attended Piedmont College and Bessie Tift College in Forsyth, receiving her bachelor of arts degree. Teaching was always her career of choice and in 1938 she embarked upon a teaching career which would span 39 years. Her entire teaching career was teaching first-grade students – the first year at Nacoochee Elementary School, followed by five years at Cleveland Elementary School in White County and the last 33 at Clarkesville Elementary School. She and her two sisters, Gladys Holcomb and Lorene Holcomb English, were all teachers and together spent 109 years in the classrooms of Northeast Georgia.
Willene Holcomb received many honors and accolades during her teaching career, including Teacher of the Year. But her greatest reward was her relationships with her students, whom she loved and who returned her love. She gave her best and she challenged her first graders to do their best.
God, her family, her church and her students were the passions of Willene Holcomb’s life. In 1927, when she was 9 years old, she moved with her family into the two-story house on Washington Street in Clarkesville that was to be her address for the remainder of her life. Willene was a great care-giver, devoting herself with compassion to the care of her mother for several years, to her sister, Lorene, during her final illness, and to others in her family during times of illness or injury. Willene willingly gave more than her share to any endeavor in support of her siblings and others who needed her help. Often, Gladys referred to Willene as the one holding up her right arm while Gladys carried the ball.
She is survived by her sister, Gladys Holcomb; nephew, Paul Holcomb Jr. and wife Jean; nieces Katherine Holcomb Workman and husband Johnny, Anne Holcomb Belser and husband the Rev. Rick Belser, and Louise Holcomb Evans and husband David; two great-nephews and five great-nieces; two great-great-nephews and two great-great-nieces.
She was a member of Clarkesville Baptist Church since childhood, where she was very involved in Woman’s Missionary Union, her Sunday School class and other church activities as long as she was physically able.
Two of the great enjoyments in her life were cooking and travel. For years, her cooking was a ministry as she prepared meals and special dishes for homebound friends and relatives. She and her sisters, Gladys and Lorene, traveled extensively on the continents of North America, Europe and Asia. On one tour they were behind the Iron Curtain for three weeks but Willene’s favorite trip was to Alaska in the 1980s.
She, along with Gladys, enjoyed doing community service work and volunteered for years with the American Red Cross to help in its Habersham County blood drives. She also enjoyed her participation in Tomochichi Chapter, Daughters of the American Revolution.
Willene Holcomb was a person who was loved and respected by everyone who knew her, a model of love for God, and who humbly served her fellow human beings. Her passing is being mourned by all who knew her.
The family requests no flowers. Memorials may be given to: Clarkesville Baptist Church, P.O. Box 667, Clarkesville, GA 30523; or Office of Institutional Advancement, Willene Holcomb Scholarship, 100 Alumni Drive, Cleveland, GA 30528; or to your favorite charity.
Online condolences may be sent at hillsidememorialchapel.com.
Funeral arrangements by Hillside Memorial Chapel, Clarkesville.
The Northeast Georgian
March 30, 2012