Nothing made Sallie D. Mayfield happier than packing a shoe box with fried chicken and sweet potato pies she had made, and then taking to the road, as she drove to Chester County, South Carolina, to visit her parents, aunts, cousins and other family members.
In addition to her fried chicken, which she seasoned with flour and slowly fried in Crisco, family members said, she was the mistress of other Southern culinary specialties.
"Family members raved about her baby back barbecued spareribs, collard greens and cornbread,” said a niece, Martena D. Clinton of Randallstown. “Every Friday, Aunt Sallie would drive across town to the market to handpick her vegetables and meats.”
Miss Mayfield, a retired businesswoman who loved the Baltimore Colts and Orioles as much as her Southern cooking, died May 14 of COVID-19 at the Augsburg Lutheran Home and Village in Lochearn. She was 100.
“She had broken her hip in March but came through the surgery with flying colors,” said Louella W. Garner, another niece, who lives in Lochearn. “She lived to be a hundred, and what happened to her just pierces my heart.”
Mrs. Garner said that her aunt was tested for COVID-19 on April 27 and diagnosed with it three days later.
Sallie Delores Mayfield, daughter of Willie and Ella Mayfield, farmers, was born in Fairfield, South Carolina. After her mother died when she was young, her father married “Mama” Rosie Mayfield, who raised her stepdaughter.
Miss Mayfield attended New Hope Baptist Church, which had been established and built by her grandfather, Will Lyles, who also built the Will Lyles Elementary School, which she attended.
After graduating in 1939 from Finley High School in Chester, South Carolina, she enrolled at Benedict College in Columbia, South Carolina, from which she earned a bachelor’s degree in 1944 in business.
She moved to Baltimore in 1945, hoping to use her business degree, but found opportunities limited in her field, so she went to work as a welder at the old Glenn L. Martin Co. in Middle River, building airplanes for the war effort.
After World War II ended, she entered the Cortez Peters Business School, from which she graduated in 1947.
“Disenchanted with the racial climate in the workplace, Sallie became a successful businesswoman, owned her own establishment, worked earnestly and diligently and was financially stable for the rest of her life,” wrote Mrs. Clinton and Mrs. Garner in a biographical profile of their aunt.
Miss Mayfield was the owner of First & Last Cut Rate, an East Federal Street bar and package goods store, from 1963 until 1997, when she sold the business.
She joined Mount Pleasant Baptist Church in the late 1940s and in 1970, became a member of Mount Hebron Baptist Church, where she participated in many church activities and was especially involved with the choir.
“One could easily spot Aunt Sallie as she was always a razor-sharp dresser that she topped with fancy hats,” her two nieces wrote.
Miss Mayfield, an avid sports fan, was for years an Orioles and Colts season ticket holder and enjoyed traveling to World Series and Super Bowls games.
Miss Mayfield enjoyed wide reverence within her family.
“Aunt Sallie knew, because she was told, that she was a family heroine, everything many hoped to be, and that she was the wind beneath many wings,” the two nieces wrote. “Many knew she was kindhearted, fair, loyal, dependable, a hard worker and helped in numerous ways. She enjoyed visiting the sick, keeping a clean kitchen and a tidy house was a must.”
All of that love and respect came to a confluence on Sept, 29, 2019, when family members gathered to celebrate her 100th birthday. Her actual birth date was Oct. 1, 1919.
She lived with Mrs. Garner until moving to the Lochearn retirement community in 2016.
“Aunt Sallie was a no-nonsense person. She was very quiet and didn’t like any confusion,” Mrs. Garner said in a telephone interview. “She was easygoing and loved peace and harmony. That’s what she wanted in her life.”
“She was a fighter and with it to the very end,” Mrs. Clinton said.
A public viewing will be held from 9:30 a.m. to 11 a.m. Wednesday at the Wylie Funeral Home, 9200 Liberty Road, Randallstown, with only 10 people allowed into the funeral home at a time. Graveside services will follow with 10 family members only at Arbutus Memorial Park.
In addition to her two nieces, she is survived by a sister, Willa Twitty of Washington; another niece, Louise Wylie of Gwynn Oak; and many nephews and cousins.