In Memoriam: Mary Olive Jordan Fleming Mahoney

In Memoriam: Mary Olive Jordan Fleming Mahoney
David, Bill, Mary “Olive”, Paul, and Hardee Mahoney – 1985

September 29, 1926 – August 23, 2020

Mary Olive (Olive) Jordan Fleming Mahoney (September 29, 1926 – August 23, 2020) crossed over the river to rest under the shade trees with her Lord and Savior Jesus Christ peacefully at the St. Vincent’s Hospice unit Sunday the 23rd at (John) 3:16 in the afternoon, just shy of her 94th birthday. Heaven’s gates opened up and God and the love of her life, Billy, greeted her with a hearty welcome, “Hey Little Darlin’ – Welcome Home”.

Olive tested positive for COVID on July 3rd, fought the hard fight, testing negative and finally coming home to 4132 Robin Hood Rd. on August 14th. It seemed she had beaten COVID and was resting and recovering. Unfortunately underlying systemic infections and the impact of COVID were too much, and she left us for 4132 Heaven Rd. on the 23rd. Suffering back to back strokes in early 2018, she and God had many conversations over the last 2 and ½ years before they finally agreed it was time for Olive to go to her eternal home.

Olive was born the youngest of four, in the Fleming family home at 1102 Acosta St. in Jacksonville, in the fall of 1926. The family attended Riverside Baptist Church, which could be seen from the front porch, where she was baptismally dunked as is the custom. Her father John David, from whom she inherited her beautiful blue eyes, went to heaven at 1102 when she was just four years old. Olive most likely witnessed his tragic death, at his (debated) young age of 41; she would have been at home while her siblings were in school. She was to be married at 1102, 30 years later in 1956, to the love of her life Billy Mahoney. Her mother Ruth (Bama), the oldest of eight children, raised the family on a song and a prayer. Olive was called by the sobriquet of “Little Olive” as a youngster by her large family, as she was named after her Aunt Olive, Bama’s little sister. 1102 was home to many boarders over the years, including Bama’s siblings and their spouses. Jacksonville was the official home to the large Adams clan who were spread out across the country. 

Mary Olive (Olive) Jordan Fleming Mahoney
Mary Olive (Olive) Jordan Fleming Mahoney

Olive attended West Riverside Elementary, John Gorrie Junior High and graduated from Robert E. Lee High School in 1944. Olive went through the Jacksonville school system with many life time buddies, including Minerva Mason, nee Rogers, and Jean “Pokey” Lyerly, nee Towers and Bartley. As one of the “Greatest Generation”, she then attended The Florida State College for Women (FSCW), now The Florida State University (FSU); arriving in Tallahassee at the age of 17, while the country was at war. From her student records found after 64 years, many enlightening details about Olive’s early life can be shared. As to her Home Conditions, it was stated – “Very attached to family. Worried about sister whose husband was just killed, and brother in France. Very fond of her Mother. From a Counselor’s report it was stated – “Olive is deeply religious, regular in her church attendance, and has high ideals of morality. In another report it was noted – “She seems to make friends easily. She has a delightful sense of humor, and carries on a conversation with directness and ease. She is very well poised. Indeed Olive never met a stranger. She was very active at FSCW including joining the Pi Beta Phi sorority, where her future Sister-in-Law, Eleanor Elder Mahoney was already a senior sorority sister of the wine and silver blue. Olive was chosen Miss Pi Beta Phi of 1945, and often reflected upon the moment when she was initiated to the beautiful melody of Claude Debussy’s “Clair de Lune”.

During the interim years before marrying Olive was busy with family. She travelled with her mother via train to California to visit her sister Ruthie-Bell, staying at the Palmer House in Chicago along the way, ultimately attending the Rose Bowl. She spent many years visiting her namesake Aunt Olive and Uncle Jack Jordan in New Orleans. She worked for the Army Corp of Engineers, often having coffee at the Green Derby on Riverside Ave. She proudly often stated that she never smoked a cigarette, but she sure did love her wine. These were memories that became stories to her children in her later years.

Her mother’s people were from rural Alabama and her daddy’s were from rural Georgia. Olive had a way with words, understandably picked up from being from a large southern family. Phrases like “that was a big rascal”, “I need to see a Man about a Dog”, “Bread and Butter – come to Supper” – spoken to someone when you walked on either side of an object; and “Sit down and count to ten”, when you left the house and had to return for something forgotten. 

She married Bill Mahoney on June 2, 1956, and their love story lasted for 49 years. They bought a “spec” house in Ortega Forest that was built by her brother Buck. They engaged wonderful Fannie Wolfolk Pandley to help them raise their boys. A young 18 year old Fannie had assisted Bama at the Fleming household when Olive was just four years old, essentially helping to raise two generations of Mahoney’s. Olive embraced the longtime Mahoney Presbyterian faith and raised her children at the Riverside Presbyterian Church. She had a strong Faith in God and lived her Faith through her family and friends. She was honored by RPC back in 2015 with a 50 + Years Membership Certificate.  

Both born and raised in Jacksonville, Bill and Olive had many friends and were engaged in many activities. They belonged to a Dinner Group made up of many couples for years. Tennis at the Florida Yacht Club (FYC) was a big part of their social life, harkening back to their courtship days when they played at Boone Park. They travelled the country and world, often with great friends Dr. David and Jeanne Moomaw. They lived their lives seeking knowledge and adventure. Olive was active over these years, volunteering at the voting booths at Ortega United Methodist Church, with her Book Club – the “Ladies Literary Society”, the “Brown Baggers” and “Lunch Bunch” – school gal pals, and “Prophets Profits” – an investment group. She was also an active member of the Watsonia Garden Circle for many years, being “Golden Gardner”. She worked many years at Lords Gift Shop in Avondale, along with her buddy Dinkie Roseborough, the perfect job to allow her social butterfly skills to flourish.

Unfortunately they were in a terrible accident back in ’04 which took Bill’s life in March of ‘05. Olive persevered, continuing in many of these activities. She was active in the ‘Tea-Girls” gatherings usually on Monday’s where the ladies gathered to ruminate and discuss the day’s issues (not exactly drinking tea). She continued her bridge games at the Timuquana or Florida Yacht Clubs, often every Wednesday night with the FYC bridge gang. 

Olive loved sports, crowds and people watching. She always cheered on her FSU Seminoles – including her hilarious version of the Tomahawk Chop; enjoying many football tailgates and games in Tallahassee, once famously slugging a shot of bourbon from a bottle being passed around. Olive’s constant companion through these later years was her kitty – Aunt Val – so appropriately named because she actually had an Aunt Valentine, the first female executive with Pan Am Airlines out of Houston.

Olive’s sister-in-law, Eleanor, was a very active member of The National Society of the Colonial Dames of America (NSCDA), and it was a dream that she would become a member. This membership was in the works when COVID hit back in March and suspended everything. The genealogical documentation was completed that was to be submitted to the Society, validating her lineage back to Captain Thomas Jefferson II, born 1677, grandfather to the president Thomas Jefferson. His daughter Judith was the ancestor that led from the Jefferson’s, to the Farrar’s to the Flemings. Her Great Great Grandfather, Robert Alexander Fleming, was a co-founder of the Lincolnton, GA Presbyterian Church, founded in 1823 – a beautiful one-room church house still standing today.

In her later years Olive initiated several rituals which her children and care givers embraced. She would say “Lord be With You”, which was to be answered with “And also with you”. She also would give the thumbs up sign, to let you know that all was well; we were blessed with that final thumbs up on August 16th at 4132 Robin Hood Rd. Her final words were, “let’s have some wine”.

She was predeceased by her parents, John David and Ruth Thornton Adams Fleming, her beloved husband of 49 years William (Billy) Hardee Mahoney Sr., her brother Paul (Buck) Guilford Fleming (and Nell McNiel Fleming who passed away just a few days before Olive), and sisters Virginia (Dit) Ellen Prather (Walter), and Ruth Thornton Ryker Hancock (Frank and Floyd).

She is survived by her sons William Hardee Mahoney, Jr. (Juan), David Fleming Mahoney, and Paul Bessent Mahoney; grandchildren Katie Doyle Mahoney Bridge (Eric), Caleb David Mahoney (Jennie), and Kylie Adams Mahoney Turner (Bradley), and great grandchildren Hudson Turner, Wyatt Bridge, and Oliver Mahoney.

The Mahoney’s would like to thank many people for their gracious and warm loving help over the last several years of Olive’s life. Especially the many compassionate colleagues from J-Mac Enterprises, including Johnnie (sadly recently going to his eternal home) and Geneva McClain, their daughter Johnnetta McClain, Annie Snead (our sweet Miss Annie), Wanda Jackson, Stephanie DuPont, Sheila McClain, Shann’toria Smith, Tammala Miller, and others, whose devotion and care enabled Olive to have the quality of life these past few years that she would not have had otherwise. 

The family invites all, given these pandemic days, to a safe and socially distancing graveside interment at the Evergreen Memorial Cemetery, 4535 N. Main St., Jacksonville, FL 32206, at 10am, Tuesday September 29th, , Olive’s 94th birthday. A Memorial Service at the Riverside Presbyterian Church Sanctuary will be held when possible. 

In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to the Riverside Presbyterian Church Meals on Wheels program, the National Society of the Colonial Dames of America, 2715 Q St. NW, Washington, DC 20007, or the Sulzbacher Center for the Homeless, 611 E. Adams St., Jacksonville, FL 32202.

Hebrews 11:1-3: “Faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things unseen. With it the elders received divine approval. Through Faith we know that all the world was created by the word of God, so that all that can be seen is made up of that which does not appear”; 2 Corinthians 4-6: “For it is the God who said, “Let light shine out of darkness,” who has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Christ”; Isaiah 41-31: “but they who wait on the Lord shall have their strength renewed, they shall mount up with wings like eagles, they shall run and not be weary, they shall walk and not faint; Philippians 4:4-7: “Rejoice in the Lord always, again I say rejoice in the Lord. Let all me know your forbearance, the Lord is at hand. Have anxiety about nothing, but in everything with prayer, supplication and with thanksgiving make your requests be known to God. The Peace of the Lord shall pass all understanding, and shall keep our hearts and minds in Christ Jesus forever”.

By Paul Bessent Mahoney

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