Clemon “Cleo” Booker

Published 4:21 pm Friday, March 1, 2024

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On April 8, 1940, Clemon “Cleo” Booker was born to the late Montgomery Booker and Pirlee Kinard Booker in Lynn, North Carolina. However, he lived in Tryon, North Carolina after his birth. He attended Edmund Embury School where he graduated top of his senior class. He was an enthusiastic athlete who played football and basketball. Cleo was a member of the Freemasons. From a young age, he was a member of St. Luke CME Church in Tryon, North Carolina, the same church as Nina Simone.

Cleo was married to Odessa Carson Booker and to this union five children were  born, Chrelle Booker, Tryon NC, Clemon “Bro” Booker, Rutherfordton, NC, Denise Booker Deadwiley, Monroe NC, Corby Booker (Donna), Forest City NC, and Monique Booker, Inman SC. He has two more children, Craig Canady, Alexander VA, and Chanequa Canady, Shelby NC. Cleo had immense love and affection for his children. He was blessed with ten wonderful grandchildren, Christopher Booker, Joel Booker, O’Shea Booker, D’Shara Booker, Kiera Booker, Jaylan Deadwiley, Kyra Smith, Kylia Smith, Caleb Canady, and Ziarre Canady.

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Cleo was preceded in death by his parents, sisters Marjorie Booker, Emma Littlejohn, and Barbara Booker Burns, and brothers Steve Booker, Lenwood Burnside, and William “Bill” Booker. He leaves cherished memories to Albert Booker (Sherri), Marie Littlejohn, Olivia Booker, Joyce White, Syble Simpson (Alfred “Al”), Anna Byers-McDowell, Sister-In-Laws Ann Bush, and Izabell Carson, Brother-In-Law Horace Carson, and an abundance of nieces, nephews, and friends, whom he loved dearly.

Cleo worked 17 years for Ryders before retiring in 1997 and earning Employee of the Year. He had a diverse career, working at Henson’s, Old Dominion Freight Line, textile, restaurants and side hustle jobs. He earned numerous professional certifications and accolades, including a Certificate of Merit: Operation, Service, and Repair of Refrigeration Equipment For The Transportation Industry, Spartanburg Technical College-Welding, Certificate of Excellence In Qualified Ryder Technician Maintenance Training, Certification in EPA Requirement In Vehicle Air Conditioning Systems, CFC Handling and CFC Recovery/Recycling, Qualified Ryder Technician of Excellence In Preventive Maintenance, Certificate of Excellence In Qualification In Air Breaks, and Qualification In Vehicle Inspection.

After a traumatic incident in 2011, God gave him twelve and a half more years to enjoy life. It blessed him and it was his clear purpose to give to people he knew, strangers, organizations, family, and friends. Cleo had a passion for fishing both in fresh water and deep sea, alone or with company. He also enjoyed hunting, dogs, and animals in general. He made several trips to Florida to fish with his nephew. In a close second to fishing, he had a passion for eating and was an excellent cook. He had this thing about grocery shopping and washing his own clothes. He cherished greeting cards with heartfelt messages—beautiful sentiments that spoke volumes. He wasn’t big on expensive items, but he loved expensive meaningful cards. He meticulously preserved and kept ALL the cards and gifts from his children, grandchildren and friends, often revisiting them with fondness.

Cleo was a man of many talents. He was excited about coaching the Rockettes softball team, working in his yard, planting flower gardens and weeding them. He enjoyed an immaculate yard. He built fences, birdhouses and storage sheds from scratch and restored an antique car as a hobby. In fact, he thought everyone should have at least two cars, so his property was always full of cars. He had a penchant for baseball-style hats, especially those adorned with the emblem of the Town of Tryon. He was a fan of his mother’s pottery which held a special place in his home. Today’s technology frustrated him to no end, but he managed. He found joy in simple pleasures like manicures and pedicures, facial grooming, Tripeaks Solitaire, and most sports fueled his spirit. Cleo was a Pittsburgh Steelers fan. He was known as Mr. Fix It and Mr. Handy Man. Cleo was not a man to sit still, until his last day, he was tirelessly working to perfect his yard, leaving it in pristine condition.

In addition to being a loving father, Cleo had several memorable experiences in his life, like cruising. He had the pleasure of meeting and conversing with the famous “A Man Named Pearl”. He also had an engaging conversation with Richard Williams, the father of Serena and Venus Williams. As fate would have it, by attending professional tennis matches, he had the unique experience of watching Venus and Serena compete against each other. Cleo learned to play baseball by spending time with the semi-pro team, the Tryon Allstars, serving as a bat boy and assisting with other tasks. He was on Embury School’s state championship basketball team in 1958.

His artistic creations with concrete can be seen around the Town of Tryon and he had a hand in the creation of driveways throughout North and South Carolina.

Cleo held several women in high regard, including his mother, “Granny” Virginia Hines Carson, who he said was like a second mother to him and NEVER interfered in his marriage. He also admired Gladys Knight, Serena Williams, and Michelle Obama.

Cleo often expressed that he not only loved his children but also enjoyed their company. Interacting with their diverse personalities, gifts, and talents brought him immense joy. He was a devoted father and friend, and his absence is deeply felt, but his love remains.

Clemon Cleo Booker passed away peacefully at home. The only unfulfilled wishes on his bucket list were a trip to the Grand Canyon and more fishing adventures.

Daddy, you are our cherished legacy. Your legacy lives on, woven into the fabric of our memories. We believe NO MAN could be a better father and friend to us than you were. You lived a full life. Rest in peace. You are etched in our hearts. Daddy, we will forever love you…

Thompson Mortuary & Chapel 416 Forest Street, Forest City, NC 28043 – (828) 245-0258

Funeral Services are at  St. Luke CME Church, 462 Markham Road, Tryon NC 28782 at 1 PM. His body will lie in state at noon. The committal is at the Good Shepherd Episcopal Church Cemetery in Tryon, North Carolina. His spirit is with the Lord.

Chrelle Booker
Tryon, NC