Allene Marie McKinney Shillings, 96, of Goldthwaite, passed away peacefully in her sleep at home on Saturday, November 25, 2023. She was living life to the fullest and had just made her family-famous dressing Thanksgiving Day for her three remaining children and their family members.
Allene was born in Mannford, Oklahoma, in 1927 to Sterling Baker and Vina (Lund) McKinney.
Her mother was a teacher and she taught Allene reading and math while she was still in a high chair. Fractions were taught using measuring spoons and cups.
She skipped second grade and spent most of her school years in Pampa, Texas, graduating from Pampa High School in 1944 as valedictorian.
She met her husband, Clarance E. Shillings, when he moved there during their junior year. She only agreed to go out with him if he’d allow her girlfriends to tag along. Allene and Clarance were married two days after graduation.
Two months later, Clarance was drafted into military service and assigned to the Army Air Corps. While he was in basic training and teletype school, Allene followed along. She often shared that she was the young woman depicted in the movies during World War II standing at the train station, or outside a base, looking for her man in a sea of identical uniforms and freshly shorn heads.
She always found a job in the town where he was stationed. One time she was waitressing in Illinois when a patron left a ten-dollar bill for a meal that was less than a dollar. She started running after him to give him his money back when the diner owner stopped her. The customer was a regular. The son of a Chicago mobster. He was known for leaving extravagant tips.
After training, Clarance was sent to Batista Field, Cuba, and Allene went back to Pampa to live with her family and have their first child.
At the end of World War II, Allene and Sharon boarded a soon-to-be decommissioned Mississippi River boat in New Orleans with 26 other dependents and about 400 GIs going home from the war. They were bound for Puerto Rico where the young family spent two idyllic years together.
Life wasn’t always easy, but it was definitely interesting.
As Clarance rose through the ranks in the Air Force, Allene had four more children, lost one of them at age 2, moved the family from one part of the world to another, and entertained often.
With her trusty 1944 Woman’s Home Companion Cook Book, she mastered the art of cooking for all occasions, while expertly developing her four growing children.
She was able to easily adapt to the ever-changing demands of being a military wife, and enjoyed the opportunity to live and collect mementos in places like London, Madrid, Washington, DC, and Tokyo.
Allene was thankful for her excellent teachers in Pampa, especially Mrs. Holloway, from whom she and Clarance both took typing and business courses. Anytime they were back in the Panhandle, they would make a special trip to Pampa just to visit her.
Another teacher had told her, “Don’t marry Clarance. If you do, you’ll just end up in some small podunk Texas town.” As Allene would often share, after living in four major world capitals, crossing the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans in luxury liners, and attending parties at the White House, she ended up in a wonderful, small Texas town, by choice, in 2002.
She was preceded in death by her husband of 78 years, Col. Clarance E. Shillings, daughters Valerie and Teresa, her parents, her brother Henry Lee, and son-in-law Jerry Stodghill.
Allene is survived by her children, Sharon Stodghill of Trinidad, CO, Kent (Jill) Shillings of Goldthwaite, and Candace (Ray) Fitzpatrick of Plano, TX, 7 grandchildren, 10 great- grandchildren, and numerous nieces and nephews.
Visitation will be from 2-4 on Sunday, December 3, at Stacy-Wilkins Funeral Home in Goldthwaite. A short graveside service will be held the following morning.
In lieu of flowers, the family requests that you reach out to an elder in your family or community and ask them to share a story or two with you. Then, listen with reverence.