Claire W. Jameson, 99, widow of C. Randolph Jameson Sr., died peacefully surrounded by family at McLeod Health Clarendon Hospital in Manning on June 21, 2024. Claire was born Dec. 10, 1924, in Cordele, Georgia, the daughter of Henry Cowan Whelchel and Jeffie (Mount) Whelchel. She graduated from Cordele High School and attended Georgia State College for Women. She then graduated from the University of Georgia with a Bachelor of Science degree in Elementary Education and was a member of Pi Beta Phi sorority.
After college, she immediately began her teaching career. In 1952 she married C. Randolph Jameson Sr. of Easley, and they settled in Sumter, where they purchased the Jameson Farm, built a home and raised their children, Julie and Charlie, while farming on the homeplace. After 50 years of devotion to marriage, family and farming, Randolph passed away in 2002. In addition to her husband and parents, Claire was predeceased by her sister and brother-in-law, Mary Jeff and Charles Williams; brothers and sisters-in-law, Alvin and Virginia Whelchel, Henry C. (Chick) and Faye Whelchel and George and Beverly Whelchel, all of Cordele, Georgia.
Claire was a dedicated first-grade teacher for 30 years, retiring from Crosswell Elementary School in Sumter. She was a member of the Delta Kappa Gamma Society. She was a devoted member of Graham Baptist Church in Sumter where she taught the adult women’s Sunday school class for many years. She was a life-member of The Poinsett-Bland Garden Club where she served in multiple committees and leadership positions and achieved numerous blue ribbons and awards for flower entries from her own gorgeous yard. She established and was certified as a National Backyard Wildlife Habitat with her beautifully maintained yard and gardens. Claire was a life-long member and served in leadership positions in the Zoar Homemakers Club which fostered Christian values and service to the community. For many years after her retirement from teaching, she regularly met with the “Crosswell Group” of retired teachers, administrators and staff where she shared great fellowship and memories. Of this group, she had one remaining member and dear friend, Elizabeth Jennings, whom she spoke on the phone with daily. Elizabeth predeceased her one month ago at the age of 102.
In her 80s (her younger years) Claire participated in the Shepherd’s Center activities for seniors which included line dancing, board games and most notably the Short Story Class, which left her with fond memories of the class leader, the very distinguished and accomplished, Jane Collins of Sumter. In the summer, when she finished her daily chores, she then made her way to the John Deere Z-track Zero Turn Lawn Mower to cut several acres of grass over a few days. When she turned 90 years old, her kids had to take the lawn mower key away for her own safety! As for her love of college football, Claire was perhaps the oldest and only Georgia fan who was known to share her loyalty among three schools – The Bulldogs, the Clemson Tigers and the South Carolina Gamecocks. When they played each other, the team she rooted for was kept a secret!
Claire was a unique and admirable person in many ways. She gracefully balanced her teaching profession, raising two children, her support to Randolph’s farming and service to her community without missing a beat. In her early years, she touched the lives of many young children at Crosswell Elementary School, attended her own children’s school and sporting events and was actively engaged in farming with her gardening, birding and “u-pick” muscadines and blueberries. Claire was blessed with an abundance of grace and humility, which made her a gentle and extremely beloved wife, mother, sister, aunt, grandmother, great-grandmother and friend to everyone.
Some of her most memorable moments in recent years included former first-grade students who recognized her, introduced themselves to her and shared they were grandparents themselves. Most notably, however, was the pride she felt from her granddaughters. First, when she visited Ellie’s classroom in her first year as a fifth-grade teacher for carrying on the long line of educators in the family. Then, most recently for the excitement she experienced when she learned that her first great-grandchild was named for her. Jennifer and Will named Mary Claire for Jennifer’s great-grandmothers. Claire will be missed by everyone for being a gentle, loving, Christian woman who always made you feel good about yourself with her kindness to everyone she knew, be it one day or a lifetime.
Claire is survived by her family: daughter, Julie Jameson, of Cedar Mountain, North Carolina; son, Charlie R. Jameson Jr. and his wife, Anne (whom she loved like her own daughter), of Columbia, and their daughters (grandchildren) Jennifer (Will) Bailey of Greenville and Ellie (Josh) Baker of Easley; and her namesake great-granddaughter, Mary Claire Bailey; as well as numerous cousins, nieces, nephews, great nieces and great nephews.
We would like to thank the loyal McKnight Family who worked for Claire for many years: Rosalie with housework; Louise with gardening and Ramsey “James” with farm upkeep. The McKnights were beloved by Claire, and she treated them like family.
Claire’s family would like to thank the staff and administration of Sumter Grove Assisted Living for their unconditional care and love; cardiologist, Dr. James Willliam Phillips III; retina specialist, Dr. Jeffrey G. Gross; her primary physician, Dr. Hugh Stoddard, for his excellent care for many years; and all of the McLeod Physicians and staff, especially Rob McMahon (NP), Dr. Lisa Heichberger, Dr. Jarrod Mullen and most notably, Dr. Charlee Pittman, OD, for her guidance, compassion and care during Claire’s last week of life.
Funeral service will be held at 11 a.m. Monday, June 24, 2024, in the Elmore-Cannon-Stephens Funeral Home Chapel, officiated by the Rev. John Patrick of Graham Baptist Church, Sumter. Burial will be in Cordele, Georgia. Honorary pallbearers are Will Bailey and Josh Baker.
Visitation will be Monday, June 24, 2024, from 9:30 to 11 a.m. at Elmore-Cannon-Stephens Funeral Home prior to the funeral.
Claire’s wish was for memorial gifts to Graham Baptist Church, 4000 U.S. 521 South, Sumter, SC 29153; (803) 481-8229.
Elmore-Cannon-Stephens Funeral Home and Crematorium of Sumter is in charge of the arrangements.