Canale Funeral Directors
2700 Union Avenue Extended
Memphis, TN
Mary Jane Pidgeon Sledge passed away Christmas Day after years of enduring the complications of Multiple Sclerosis. Her death marks the end of an era: understated elegance and selfless determination seamlessly blended into a feisty wit and undying devotion to her family, church and community. She was a genuine steel magnolia with the deepest of roots and far reaching influence that will affect many for decades to come. She leaves behind daughters, Mary Phillipa Sledge and Nell Sledge Puls, son-in-law, Jack Puls and granddaughter, Mary Nell Betancourt. She was predeceased by her husband, William Ruffin Sledge and her parents, Phillip David Pidgeon and Mary Jane Wilkerson Pidgeon. The Pidgeon family has played an important role in the development of Memphis since it arrived here from Ireland in the 1840’s. Her grandfather, James C. Pidgeon, bought the Coca-Cola Bottling Company of Memphis in 1909. The family owned Magnolia Farms, (now Pidgeon Estates) which owned, bred and exhibited world class American Saddlebreds, such as 1947 World Grand Champion Three-Gaited Nellie Pidgeon and was home to prominent breeding sires. A fierce competitor and for years undefeated, Mary Jane captured hundreds of national titles spanning all major Saddlebred divisions from her early childhood on. She established her own iconic legacy creating Pidgeon Roost Farm with national and world grand champions including Yes It’s True-2001 World Grand Champion Three Gaited, Americana’s Jazzman, Lady Periana, Prize Contender and Undulata’s High Society. She was inducted into the Kentucky State Fair Hall of Fame in 2004, the same year that NATIONAL HORSEMAN magazine called her “The First Lady of Walk-Trots”. The American Saddlebred Horse Association honored her with The Lurline Roth Sportsmanship Award in tribute to her selfless participation. Mrs. Sledge was Queen of the Grand Krewe of Osiris in 1947, a member of the Memphis Country Club, a sustaining member of LeBonheur, a former member of the Junior League of Memphis and a life-long parishioner of St. Anne’s Church on Highland. She was a charter supporter of the Germantown Charity Horse Show as well as a lifetime member of the United States Equestrian Federation, the American Saddlebred Horse Association and the American Saddlebred Museum in Lexington, KY. She was an avid and knowledgeable collector of fine French biblots and antiques. Visitation will be 4 to 6 p.m. on Monday, December 30th at Canale Funeral Directors, 2700 Union Avenue Extended, with a Rosary to follow at 6 p.m. A Mass of Christian Burial will be celebrated at 10 a.m. on Tuesday, December 31st at St. Anne’s Catholic Church, 706 S. Highland, with burial to follow in Calvary Cemetery. In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to: The Multiple Sclerosis Fund at the Community Foundation of Memphis, 1900 Union Avenue, Memphis or The Shelby County Humane Society, 400 Hudson Blvd. Shelbyville, KY 40065.
Published by The Commercial Appeal on Dec. 29, 2013.
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12 Entries
So many cherished childhood memories of your adorable mother...the many stick "horseshows" she endured in your backyard (influenced by her, of course), the "plays" we put on in your garage, the pony cart that would show up for your Birthday many things! I especially can see her rolling her eyes at us in amusement, while drinking her iced coffee. A special lady indeed.
She enriched all of our lives; such a beautiful gift. Hugs to you both.
Diane Wagner Mathews
January 12, 2014
Your Mother / grandmother had a great life of 87 years! The angels and saints all welcomed her on Christmas Day to join all her family and friends but mostly your Dad/Grandfather ! The music was loud for her arrival to be together again with your dad and so many family and friends to greet her.
May you Nell and all your family remember your Mother of so many years with all of you but also now dancing in heaven with your Dad once again , for she is happy and wants all of you to be as well ! Her smile shines threw you !
Bless you all with peace .
N.and J. Hayden and family
January 8, 2014
Nel and phillipa and mary nel,
Your mother was so much fun and visiting your home she made me feel like part of the family.
gail gibbons jordan
January 5, 2014
I am so sorry for your loss. You were such a wonderful daughter to her, and Im sure she was proud…. sending you a big hug. with love, Cheryl
cheryl friedman-olpin
January 3, 2014
Thoughts and prayers for the family of an amazingly influential and inspirational woman who will be missed in the ASB Nation.
Stephanie Lawrence
January 2, 2014
Dear Phillipa and Nell,
So sorry for your loss. Treasure your memories. You are in my prayers.
Joan Tonning Hug
December 31, 2013
Philipa and family,,,,,
Mrs. Sledge's obituary was a wonderful tribute to a grand lady. It said it all. We were all blessed to have known her and shared her everlasting spirit. She was such a wonderful example to us all. She fought a tough battle for many years and is now at peace and rest which she so deserved. I hope the caring of family and friends helps you through this difficult time. She will be missed by so many. We share your loss at this time.
Nancy Noble
December 30, 2013
We are so sorry for the loss of Mrs. Sledge. Her strength, elegance, and determination will continue to live on through the Sledge family. Our thoughts and prayers are with you.

The Gee Family - Louisville KY
Richard, Joyce and Aaron Gee
December 30, 2013
So sorry for your loss. She was a lovely southern lady with wonderful charm I will always remember. She was wonderful horseman too.
Ava Kaelin-Whitmore
December 30, 2013
To the family, my heart is heavy, Mrs. Sledge will be truly missed and never forgotten. She has brought joy and laughter into my life. Praying for the family!
Carmen Johnson
December 30, 2013
My condolences to the family and friends of Mary Jane Pidgeon Sledge
Ken Walker
December 29, 2013
Huge loss to the ASB world.
Susan Fauber
December 29, 2013
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