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Mabel R. McKissick

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New London - Mabel R. McKissick, 87, of 201 Hempstead St., a prominent member of New London community and retired librarian of New London High School, passed away peacefully Friday, March 20, 2009, at the Bridebrook Rehabilitation in Niantic.

Mrs. McKissick was born June 12, 1921, in Union, S.C., the youngest and last surviving of 11 children of Philip and Charity Rice.

She was the wife of Wallace T. McKissick Sr. whom she married on Dec. 22, 1946. He predeceased her in November of 2001.

Mrs. McKissick graduated from Sims High School in Union and received her bachelor of arts degree in sociology from Knoxville College in Knoxville, Tenn. She received a master of arts degree in curriculum and teaching from Columbia University in New York City in 1954 and a master of science degree in library science from the School of Library Services, Columbia University, New York City in 1966.

Mrs. McKissick held her first position at her alma mater, Sims High School in Union, S.C., for 25 years. In 1968, she moved to New London to organize the first centralized library for New London Junior High School, now known as Bennie Dover Jackson Middle School, which is named for her sister-in-law. In 1979, she moved from New London Junior High School serving in the same capacity as librarian/media specialist to New London High School. She retired in 1990 after serving 22 years in New London.

Besides her position as librarian/media specialist, Mrs. McKissick was involved in many professional and civic organizations. She had been past president of the School and College Librarian Division, Palmetto Education Association of the State of South Carolina, past president of the Connecticut School Library Association, founding member of the Connecticut Educational Media Association, co-founder of the American Library Association's Coretta Scott King Book Award Committee, president, ETA Chapter, Delta Kappa Gamma International Society of Women Educators, and past president of Zonta International, New London area club.

She was a member of the following organizations, the Dean's Library Media Century Advisory Team at Southern Connecticut State University, the Public Library of New London Board of Directors, the American Association of University Women, the National Education Association, Connecticut Education Association, New London Education Association, New England Educational Media Association, National Council of Negro Women, National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, New London Democratic Town Committee, New London Equal Opportunity Committee, member and deaconess of the First Baptist Church of New London.

Mrs. McKissick has received many honors and awards for her accomplishments. Her biography is listed in over 16 biographical directories published in the United States and internationally. She was elected to be a delegate to the First Governor's Conference on Library and Information Services in Hartford in December, 1978, elected to be a delegate to the First White House Conference on Library and Information Services, Washington, D.C. in November, 1979, Connecticut Branch of AAUW Outstanding Woman of the Year 1982 Award, Connecticut Educational Media Association School Library Media Month Award, National School Library Media Month Award; Delta Sigma Theta Sorority Educational Achievement Award, and Award for Distinguished Library Media Services, presented by the Connecticut Educational Media Association. She was one of 81 black women of Connecticut to be selected by the Connecticut Historical Society to be awarded a Connecticut Historical Award for Black Women of Connecticut.

Mrs. McKissick is survived by her son, Wallace T. McKissick Jr.; her daughter in-law, Gail R. McKissick; a grandchild, Ian Malik T. McKissick.; nieces, Gloria Dover of New London, Rachel Williams, Miriam Fruster, Bessie Sutton, all of Easley, S.C., Marie Redden of New York, N.Y., Barbara Smith of Silver Spring, Md., Doretha Thompson of Agusta, Ga., Mary Thompson of Charlotte, N.C., Lee Dell Williams of Cleveland, Ohio; and nephews, Charles McKissick of Florida, and Frank Dover of New Brunswick, N.J.; a sister-in-law, Lee Dell Rice of Cleveland, Ohio; and a host of grandnieces, grandnephews, and cousins.

A funeral service will be held at 1 p.m. on Thursday, March 26, 2009, in the First Baptist Church of New London, 268 State St. Interment will follow in Cedar Grove Cemetery, New London. A calling hour will be held one hour prior to the service at 12 noon on Thursday in the church.

Fulton-Theroux Funeral Home, New London, is handling the arrangements.

Please visit www.mem.com for photos and tributes.

Published in The Day on Mar. 22, 2009
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