Estella McCorkle Peairs was born on November 5, 1935 in Blue Springs, MS as the third child and first daughter of the late Clemon L. and Isabella (Echols) McCorkle. She passed away on December 5, 2020 at the age of eighty-five at her home in Oxford, MS.
Estella, or "Sister" as she was called, attended LaMarion High School where she was a 1955 graduate. As she told the story, she had graduated from high school without any particular plans of what to do next. One day her high school principal came through with four scholarships to Rust College in Holly Springs, MS. Estella was recommended for one of them along with three of her classmates. Out of the four recipients, she was the only one to return the following fall. She graduated with a Bachelor of Elementary Education in 1959.
Shortly thereafter, she was hired to teach at East End Elementary in Meridian, MS. While there, she met Earnest Sylvester Peairs, I, a high school teacher in the same district. Estella and Earnest were married on April 15, 1961. Estella lived with her husband in his hometown of Pascagoula, MS before he got a job at Central High School in Oxford, MS. She gave birth to her first surviving child, Karen Theresa, in 1963. By 1964, Estella had moved to Oxford, with a toddler in tow. Three other children followed, all born in Oxford; Regina Peairs Winbush in 1965; Earnest Sylvester Peairs, II, in 1969 and Rhondalyn Kaye Peairs in 1974. Estella always believed in continuing education, which she proved by attending summer school while expecting Rhondalyn and obtaining a Master of Education degree from the University of Mississippi in 1975. She was tireless and single-minded in her devotion to her children who relied on her after their father's illness and death in 1986.
Estella began her teaching career in Lafayette County at Peterson Elementary in 1965. She later continued her career at Oxford City Schools after integration. She logged a total of 39 years of teaching, having taught Reading, Math and Special Education in each grade of her K-8 certification at one time or another. She never lost the joy in helping her students learn some hard, new concept. Estella retired from teaching in 1998. Even well into her retirement, Estella was recognized and appreciated by her students as well as those who claimed her as their teacher.
Her service continued after retirement - always working with kids and her beloved church, Burns United Methodist Church in Oxford, MS. As for the children, Estella worked part-time at Mother Goose Nursery School in Oxford, MS and volunteered at the Oxford Boys and Girls Club. She was also an active member of the Oxford Development Association where she became known for her column in the Soul Force entitled "From Generation to Generation with Love." Her service to her church included participation in the United Methodist Women, as a Communion Stewardess and consistent visitor to the sick and shut-in members.
She is survived by her three daughters: Karen Theresa Peairs of Oxford, MS; Regina Peairs (Ryan) Winbush of Olive Branch, MS and Rhondalyn Kaye Peairs of Oxford, MS and her son; Earnest Sylvester Peairs, II of Memphis, TN; one grandson, Joshua Milagro Peairs of Memphis, TN; one granddaughter, Ke'Onbre Bessie of Baton Rouge, LA; brothers: James McCorkle, William McCorkle, John L. McCorkle all of New Orleans, LA, Willard McCorkle of Columbia, MS, Willie (Carolyn) McCorkle, Houston, TX; Roy (Sheila) McCorkle, Marrero, LA; a sister; Hazel (James) Coleman of Columbia, MS and sister-in-law, Genoris (Jesse) McCorkle of Columbia, MS. She is survived by a host of nieces and nephews as well as a large extended family, former students and friends.
Estella was preceded in death by her parents, Reverend C.L. and Isabella McCorkle; our daddy, Earnest S. Peairs, I, one brother: Jesse E. McCorkle; one sister: Annie Bell McCorkle (Thomas) Leggett and several sisters-in-law; Lucille (James) McCorkle; Louise (William) McCorkle; Virgie (John L.) McCorkle and Carolyn (Roy) McCorkle.
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