Mary Ann Cliburn Rutland McMahon
Mary Ann was born to Hervie Inez Boutwell Cliburn, formerly of Monticello, and Tom Sills Cliburn, formerly of Crooked Creek, on December 14, 1946, in Monticello. Her family moved around Lawrence County, as many did in the years following World War II, and she was able to live in many places. Mary Ann attended Monticello schools and graduated from Monticello High School in 1965. She was baptized by Carmel Baptist Church at the Light Plant in Halls Creek at the age of sixteen. She later attended Forest Grove MPC and Providence BC before finding her church home at Topeka Baptist Church in Jayess.
Mary Ann married Ellis Conly Rutland of Forest Grove Road in Jayess on June 30, 1967. She moved to the Forest Grove community, began her family and lived the rest of her life in their home there. Mary Ann was mother to two children, Amy Catherine and Micah Conly Rutland. In addition to raising her family, Mary Ann spent much of her life caring for others in both her immediate and extended families.
Mary Ann became the family caregiver for a short time for her mother-in-law, Alice Rutland, who passed away shortly after her and Conly’s marriage. Not long after the birth of her children, her own mother would begin a twelve year decline, ending with her total convalescence. Not long after the death of her mother, her father began having multiple heart attacks. After his death, her husband would be found with cancer and then heart problems of his own, bringing about a fourteen year healthcare need of his own. Through all of this, Mary Ann was the primary go-to person and caregiver. It was blatantly obvious to Mary Ann that God had placed her here to care for others.
In addition to family care, Mary Ann was an avid artist. Having practiced art of all kinds throughout her life, she graduated from Copiah-Lincoln Community College with a degree in Art for Elementary Education in 1984. Though she was known for her paintings, she is most known for her charcoal renderings of antique ancestral photographs for many people throughout Lawrence County, as well as a chalk ministry she presented in the late 1980’s and early 90’s. There are many churches throughout Mississippi and Louisiana with a chalk portrait of Jesus displayed with her signature on the bottom corner.
Mary Ann was able to help many adults with needs find employment and independence as a Placement Assistant with the Mississippi Department of Vocational Rehabilitation Services. She continued her artistic endeavors in the print medium through Cupid Brothers and Pound Printers in Brookhaven. She worked with Plantation Calendars and produced the art and layouts for most of the area Sheriff’s Calendars throughout the 1990’s.
Additionally, Mary Ann was probably most thrilled to work as the 4-H Youth Assistant after the loss of the agent position in Lawrence County. Mary Ann was able to pick up after the reassignment of Harvin Hudson and not only continue the great work of a 4-H Youth Agent, but also grow the area 4-H programs in a way not now enjoyed. Many adults in leadership, education, and industry today from Lawrence County had their first opportunities to experience leadership roles and take advantage of youth opportunities as a result of Mary Ann’s work with 4-H in Lawrence County.
Due to health concerns of her own, Mary Ann was forced into retirement early and spent the rest of her life taking care of her family and practicing the art of cake decorating. Mary Ann is known throughout Lawrence County and surrounding areas as THE Cake Lady. While there are many great cake makers in the area, very few are willing to attempt the type of artistically challenging cakes featured on popular cooking channels. Mary Ann enjoyed the challenge and rose to the task. There were very few things she couldn’t do with a cake, and rightfully so, as she began cake decorating in 1965.
After the death of her husband, Conly, in 2007, Mary Ann would later marry Patrick J. McMahon in November of 2008. Mary Ann and Pat continued to live in the Forest Grove Community until his death last week on January 10, 2019. Mary Ann and Pat made cakes, catered events, attended Topeka Baptist Church, and enjoyed a Christian Clown Ministry they began together. Suzie Too and Elroy, as they were known, shared the Gospel message of Jesus Christ with many churches and homes throughout the state.
Mary Ann was tragically killed in her home on Wednesday, January 16, 2019. She was wakened by her smoke alarm, woke up Amy, who happened to be spending the night, and attempted to call 911. When it was discovered that the fire was growing too quickly to remain in the home, she returned to her room, from the hallway of her home, to try to rescue the family pets, but due to a sudden backflash, the home filled with smoke faster than she could make it to any window exit, causing her death from smoke inhalation. The cause of the house fire has been determined to be an electrical failure within a wall plug that was not being used at the time. Both the plug and the wire were original to the 1965 Ranch home.
Mary Ann is preceded in death by her parents, Tom and Hervie Cliburn; husbands, Conly Rutland and Patrick McMahon; and brother, James Wesley (Jimmy) Cliburn. She is survived by her children, Amy C. Rutland and Micah C. Rutland (Katie); one grandchild, Kaleb C. Rutland; three step-children, Pam Dorris, Jim McMahon (Karen) and Philip McMahon (Debbie); 11 step-grandchildren; one step great-grandchild; a sister-in-law, Alice Dell Cliburn; niece, Rebecca Hearn (Steve), and nephew, Jamie Dale “Bo” Cliburn, and many other “nieces”, “nephews”, and cousins, too numerous to count.
Services for Mary Ann Cliburn Rutland McMahon were held at her church, Topeka Baptist, with internment at Forest Grove Methodist Protestant Church Cemetery on Monday, January 21, 2019. Reverends Dale Authement, Bobby Dawson, and Micah Rutland officiated.
The Family wishes to thank all family and friends for their compassion and assistance. A special thank you and note of indebtedness is given to every person who responded with and for our local volunteer fire departments. Your valiant efforts will never be forgotten.