In His infinite wisdom the Lord called from labor to rest one of his servants, Earnestine Clay. Earnestine completed her exemplary journey through life on Sunday, June 9, 2024. She slept peacefully away with her family by her side. She was born to the late Jeff and Codelia Harrell Clay in Tyro, Arkansas, on December 3, 1946. Memorial services will be held on Thursday, June 27, 2024 at 4:00 PM at Evangel Church in Kansas City, MO, with the visitation beginning at 3:00 PM. In lieu of flowers, contributions can be made to the following scholarship fund, created in memory of Earnestine Clay: Earnestine Clay Educational Scholarship Fund,

Earnestine at the age of six accepted Christ and joined Palestine AME Church, in Tyro, AR located in the Pickins and Gourd community under the Leadership of Rev. John Wesley Bell. She was baptized in the Bartholomew Bayou located in front of the Church. After college, she moved to Kansas City, MO and became affiliated with Unity Village in Unity Village, MO, but always supported Palestine AME Church and participated each year during the Church Anniversary and Homecoming Celebrations. Earnestine also took great joy in viewing church services virtually from Evangel Church, Kansas City, MO, in which her daughter, Daphne, is a member.

Earnestine was a member of the Palestine AME Church Choir, served as a Sunday School Secretary, a member of the Young People Division, an Usher, Delegate to the Annual Conference, and followed in her mother’s footsteps and joined the Order of Eastern Star. She also served on many of the community organizational boards and committees.

Earnestine enjoyed coming back home to Warren, AR, and spending time with her family. She loved to sit with her family members to reminisce about old memories and to be updated on new happenings since her previous visits. She was known for sharing financial love with her siblings by giving each one a new $100 bill on their birthday and Christmas each year. 

Earnestine was an honor graduate from Bradley County High School, Warren, AR. She received her Bachelor of Science degree from Arkansas Mechanical and Normal College (AM&N), now University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff. Earnestine further studied at Webster University, Kansas City, MO, receiving a Master’s of Education degree and completed several courses towards a Doctoral degree. After graduating from college, she was recruited to work as a teacher in Missouri.

 Earnestine was an educator for over 42 years with the majority of those years serving as a teacher in the Kansas City, Missouri Public School District. She began her career as a teacher at Pershing Elementary School, Kansas City, MO, and retired as a teacher at Benjamin Banneker Elementary School, Kansas City, MO. She was a highly successful teacher who was noted as being strong, humble, and compassionate. She was truly admired and respected by her peers. Throughout her tenure as a teacher, she touched the lives of over a thousand students and families, leaving an indelible mark on their lives. Earnestine’s family often joked that she taught more than half the adults in Kansas City, and it was evident in the frequent encounters she had at various public places. Whether at the grocery store, post office, bank, or gas station, Earnestine would often hear her name being called, followed quickly by ‘ You used to be my teacher!’ or ‘You were my child’s teacher!’  Earnestine was described as a concerned, dedicated, well-prepared, and committed teacher. She created a calm learning classroom environment that connected well with her students. Her dedication, passion, and kindness left a lasting impact, shaping the future of countless individuals and families. 

Earnestine’s teaching abilities and love for students were not confined just to the classroom. She taught church school students while a member of Palestine AME Church throughout the years. She also served on the trustee board, as well as, any capacity the pastor assigned her. She was a faithful worker, always with a smile. Her radiant smile and unwavering optimism were a true blessing to all who knew her. Earnestine was always able to find the ‘silver lining’ in every situation and consistently taught her children that there was always something to be grateful for in life. Her faith in Jesus was a guiding light and was witnessed in how she lived life. One of Earnestine’s favorite Bible passages, that she read daily, was Psalm 1.

Earnestine is preceded in death by her parents, Jeff and Codelia Harrell Clay; her grandparents, Charlie and Parlee Jones Harrell; Jerry and Minnie Dodds Clay; a son, Derwin Mack; one sister, Ethel Mae Collins; nephew, Johnny Earl Collins; niece, Ethelene Collins; and nephew, Timothy Radford Henderson.

She is survived by her son, Sherwin Clay; daughter, Daphne Mack; sister, Mae Francis Collins; brother, Brice Clay; sister, Dr. Dorothy Henderson; and brother-in-law, Larry Henderson; nieces and nephews: Lee Ethel Bailey, Cassandra Collins, Betty Hammock, Rev. Gwain Hammock, Donnie Ray Collins, Cornell Clay Henderson, Rev. Shirley Collins, Eddie Collins, Grover Collins, Charlotte Brady, Tony Vaughan, and Kirk Allen; and a host of great-nieces, great-nephews, cousins, and friends.

As much as we wanted to keep her with us, because Earnestine showed LOVE and COMPASSION to everyone, God wanted her much more.

Arrangements: Atkinson Funeral Home816-380-3268