Selina Patterson Pinkston was a country preacher's daughter who grew up to rub shoulders with presidents and queens. She flew with senators on private jets, traveled the world in luxury, met movie stars and socialized with billionaires. But the lady known to much of her circle as "Mama Sis" treasured nothing on this Earth but family, friendship and the ideals of love and honesty that were instilled in her from birth. Mrs. Brown Pinkston, 90, died Friday at Embracing Hospice in Snellville.
Some might say she was a walking, talking contradiction. She went through life hearing people mispronounce her name (it's a long "i" not "Sa-lee-na"). She was funnier than Lucille Ball and married for 67 years to serious a man who thought her humor undignified or worse. Often the only teetotaler in the room, she was always the life of the party. She was a homebody who lived at more than 30 addresses in eight states, none for longer than 11 years. She couldn't read music but played hymns beautifully on the piano in their published keys and sang perfectly pitched alto in church choirs. She was Southern to the marrow and a staunch liberal Democrat who was not above lecturing a suspected social conservative on gay rights. She never uttered even the mildest curse word but hit her inflections on the nose with an occasional "dad-blame-it!" And no diner waitress could top her timing and delivery of "Kiss my grits."
Selina Patterson was born May 28, 1921, in Zebulon, Ga. Her parents were Elender Childers Patterson and the Rev. D.S. Patterson, a Methodist pastor who moved the family at least 10 times during her childhood. She and her twin brother, Bud, were the youngest of six children. The others were Beatrice, Grace, Daisy and Milton, 17 years older than the baby girl they called "Sis."
She met Brown Pinkston at Piedmont College in Demorest, Ga., in 1942, and they were married two years later. Brown became a Marine pilot who fought in the Korean War, then moved the family around the East until his retirement from active service in 1959. He then worked as a sales executive for Lockheed, Cessna and Gulfstream until his retirement in 1988. They raised five children.
Her family considered her a fount of wisdom and will probably continue to resolve moral crises by asking, "What would Selina do?" She knew some conflicts were painful to face, but she always urged, "You have to talk" rather than let resentments fester.
Sayings passed down from her childhood will live on. She roused her kids from bed shouting "Hikey-moe!" just as her father had done; new generations now hear the same rude awakening. After gorging on a feast, somebody in the family will inevitably declare, "OK, I guess I'll bridge over" (to the next meal), as one of Selina's corpulent uncles was wont to sigh.
She loved to tell stories almost as much as her family loved hearing them. Some of her favorites showed the human side of the famous and powerful, like the one about Claude Pepper, the aging Florida congressman who was seated by her at a political function. When Pepper requested after-dinner coffee, she asked, "Doesn't that keep you up at night?" He answered, "Well, it helps."
Nobody's status intimidated or even impressed her. All that was important to Selina was the people she loved. She expressed and demonstrated that love her whole life. In her later years, she reigned as the family "Queen," reaping the affection she had sowed.
She is survived by her husband, Brown; five children, Rita Gail Brannin of Moss Point, Miss.; Ewell Brown "Buddy" Pinkston Jr. of Lawrenceville, Ga.; Sue Patterson Wiley of Juliette, Ga.; Rebecca Ann Steele of Newnan, Ga.; and Douglas Alan Pinkston of Sandy Springs, Ga.; 12 grandchildren; and eight great-grandchildren.
The family will receive friends Sunday, August 21, 2011 from 6:00-8:00 p.m. at Sandy Springs Chapel. A funeral service will be held Monday, August 22, 2011 at 2:00 p.m. at Sandy Springs Chapel, 136 Mt Vernon Hwy, Sandy Springs, GA 30328. A graveside service will be held Tuesday, August 23, 2011 at 3:00 p.m. in Lake Park, GA at Lake Park Cemetery. In lieu of flowers donations may be made to Macular Degeneration Association, PO Box 531313, Henderson, NV 89053.
Carson McLane Funeral Home
2215 N. Patterson St.
Valdosta , GA