On September 15, 1930, a woman with the true heart of a servant was born in the form of Elma Lee Gibbs to the late Hosea Gibbs, Sr. and Mary Eliza Robinson. She attended McKnight Grammar School and Wilson High School where she would receive her high school diploma. A lifelong desire to become a nurse was put on hold when she became the bride of James Lincoln McAllister. The fruit of that marriage produced four children: one boy who died as an infant and three girls. Her loyalty to family would later yield another daughter by way of her youngest sister, Maggie, who died from childbirth.
Her spiritual journey began at Saint Paul African Methodist Episcopal Church where she accepted Jesus as her Savior and attended during her growing-up years. She transferred her allegiance to Spring Branch Baptist Church after marrying James, joining his family church. It was there that her faith and maturity in the Word started to grow. As a member of Spring Branch Baptist Church, she immersed herself into service for the Lord serving in multiple ministries including Sunday School, Vacation Bible School, Missionary Society, and others. Elma even organized a choir along with her sister-in-law, the late Ruth Ann McAllister Jones, where she sang praises for many years.
Her commitment to serving the Spring Branch church body for more than forty years as Sunday School, teacher, and more than 30 years as a Deaconess only decreased when her beloved husband became ill and required increased care. In 2018, she stepped down from the position of Deaconess president but continued to support.
Under the faithful leadership of Mrs. Louvenia McAllister, her late sister-in-law, Elma became a member of the Missionary Society. After many years of serving, when the office became vacant, she would accept the call and appointment to be the president. The positions of vice president and secretary were added and filled under her leadership. Her dedication to recruiting and teaching younger women to serve as missionaries was evident and was a continuous goal while she served as President of the Missionary Society until her health began to decline in December of 2021.
She was a faithful attendee of the Women’s Pee Dee District Department of the Pee Dee Missionary Baptist Association as a representative for Spring Branch Baptist Church. In 1999, Elma was elected president for the district and held the office for four years. There she served in a variety of roles including serving with the youth. Her impact is still felt through some of the current executive leaders that served under her presidential reign. Elma also served several years in various positions in the Women’s Missionary Convention.
The first ushers board was established by her to serve the Spring Branch church body. She recruited adults and youth and taught them how to serve through ushering. Along with her husband, Deacon McAllister, and other ushers from various churches, the Pee Dee District Ushers’ Convention was formed. She served as the secretary for a few years. These worked as a group to fellowship and help each other learn and grow. She led the ushers at Spring Branch as president for 30 plus years.
Her outreach in the community could be found in her support of Morris College in Sumter, SC. Together she and James became patrons and ambassadors for Morris College and its fund-raising projects. During the early years of retirement, they devoted time to helping to keep Morris College open and functioning. They voluntarily represented Spring Branch Baptist Church at Morris College events to increase funds and recruited students to enroll there.
When she was not serving or doing something for the church, she liked to cook. She owned many cookbooks and had stacks of recipes that were cut out from magazines and newspapers. Most of the recipes were cooked at least one time. Her favorite foods to cook were desserts: cakes and pies especially. If she ate something new and it was good, she wanted the recipe for it. She loved pretty much all desserts or sweets. The way to get her attention was to share something sweet with her. Numerous preachers and their families were well nourished from their frequent seats at her table. Lasting friendships were developed throughout her life from her cuisine.
The first Thursday of every month was reserved for Silver Star Chapter #251, Order of Eastern Star. For 40 plus years, she served as the secretary. She enjoyed serving with others and participating in the shared activities.
Elma was affectionately known to her immediate family as “Hunks.” Having married into a large family and those who grew to know her beyond the blood lines would call her “Aunt Emmalee.” Her door was always open to the regular family and community visitors. She thoroughly enjoyed every guest and always demonstrated God’s love with a dollop of southern hospitality. The frequent phone calls made to check-in or get her thoughts and wisdom, which she did not hesitate to share, were among her favorites. There are many stories from many people of the impact that she had on their lives, and they are still being told.
After years and years of serving her family, her church, and her community, God decided to call his devoted servant home early in the morning of June 1, 2022. Now she serves alongside the Maker himself and has gone from labor to reward. Aside from her parents, infant son, and baby sister, Elma was also preceded in death by several siblings: brothers: Billy, Charlie, and Jeff and two other sisters: Meada “Bae” and Della. Her husband, James L. McAllister, and great grandson, Victor D. McAllister also preceded her in death.
Elma is lovingly survived by daughters: Pastor Patricia M. Walker, Carolyn M. Harris, Meada J. McAllister, M.D. and Constance M. Gibbs; sons-in-love: Lester C. Walker and E. Wayne Harris, Ph. D. Precious memories are left with one grandson, Kevin D. McAllister; one granddaughter, Monica K. Walker; three great grandchildren: Alyss D. McAllister, Julia D. McAllister and Emmanuel D. McAllister. She leaves two siblings: one sister, Virginia G. Brooks, and one brother, Ernest Gibbs (Gwendolyn), Sr. Cherished nieces, nephews, cousins, Goddaughter Shequita Bacote, other relatives, and friends also mourn her passing.
The family will receive friends at 2194 Horseshoe Road, Pamplico, South Carolina 29583. Due to COVID 19 - Mask are required.
Please keep the family of Elma Lee Gibbs McAllister in your thoughts and prayers.