Clara Mae Dudley was born on February 4, 1931, in Wybark, Oklahoma, to the proud parents of James Dudley and Ida Mae Dudley. She was the sixth child of a bundle of ten.
Clara attended Wybark Elementary School and Manual Art School in Muskogee, Oklahoma. She was proud to acknowledge her devotion to God. At an early age, she accepted Christ as her personal Savior by joining Union Grove Baptist Church in Wybark, Oklahoma.
She also developed a strong work ethic and independence at a very young age seeking employment in her first job at a donut shop in Tulsa, Oklahoma. On this continued quest for independence, Clara moved from Tusla, Oklahoma to Brooklyn, New York at a young age. She then met and married Jackie Aikens.
Clara’s notable accomplishments and achievements include her service as a member of the Sickle Cell Foundation. Her natural beauty and grace also earned her a role as a model for American Beauty products known as Donnie’s Super Curl as well as for other organizations. She would earn her degree from the prestigious Fordham University in New York City. Other noteworthy positions and service include The Ebony Fashion Fair Committee, a member of the Sentinel Society, Union Block Association, Federal Women Program, a member of the NAACP and the Cancer Foundation.
Her laudable positions continued through to her retirement from the United States Customs on June 24, 1996. She was one of the first black women to integrate the Customs Service at Region II NY Seaport. After working her way through the ranks, she retired holding the esteemed position of Import Specialist. In unforgettable style, Clara held her retirement party on a cruise boat on the waters off Manhattan, NYC. Once retired, she relocated to Camden, South Carolina to settle down in quietude.
Clara certainly did not embrace the traditional meaning of retirement..“no more work.” She refused to rest in retirement. Instead she walked into the classrooms of Camden, SC and set her sights as a substitute teacher. She was also a devoted member of Mt. Moriah Baptist Church and a member of the Camden Garden Club and a life member of the National Council of Negro Women.
Gracefully marching through Life’s Journey, Clara lived a life well lived. She peacefully departed this life on Sunday, May 16, 2021.
Clara was preceded in death by her parents, James and Ida Mae Dudley; seven siblings, James Dudley, Charlesetta Dunnell, Dorothy Mae Steward, Lucille Garrett, Troy Dudley, Dee Ora English and Irene Young. Clara is survived by her sister, Areatha Forbes (Willie) of Camden, SC; a brother, Cecil Dudley (Yvonne) of Queens, NY; her god-daughter, Yvette Dudley; her loving in-laws and a host of nieces, nephews, and her very close friends.
Clara Dudley will always be remembered by her smile, her grace, her style, her humor and most of all her love. God will hold you, Forever...
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