Salisbury community mourns passing of Pat Jolley

Patricia Anne Jolley, second-generation owner and operator of the family-owned Jolley Memorial Chapel in Salisbury, died Wednesday, March 25, following a sudden brief illness.

Patricia Anne Jolley.

Her passing has sent shockwaves through the Salisbury community.

“My mother loved people and loved her community, was passionate about her faith in God and providing comfort to those who were hurting,” said Ryanne Lashley-Camper, Jolley’s daughter.

Patricia Jolley was one of three daughters of the late Loretta and Thornton Jolley. Her father established the funeral home in 1947; after he died in 1962, while his daughters were still young children, his widow took over and operated the business, until she retired at age 90.

Patricia, who was known to friends and clients as “Pat,” took over the business, which she managed until her death.

Loretta Jolley, who remained active with the business after retirement, died in 2017 at age 97.

Pat Jolley attended public schools in Wicomico County, graduating from Wicomico High School in 1974. During her high school years, she was active in the Girl Scouts of America, American Legion and T.O.P.S.

She also entered various pageants, where she placed second in the Maryland Junior Miss Pageant. She was also involved with cheerleading, choral arts and various other extracurricular activities – all the while assisting her mother with the family business.

Upon graduation, she attended Wesley College in Dover, earning her associate’s degree in Arts. She then matriculated at Catonsville Community College, earning a second associate’s degree in Mortuary Science, serving her apprenticeship in Baltimore City.

She returned to Salisbury, where she worked closely with her mother at Jolley Memorial Chapel.

In 1980, she married Edwin Lee Lashley. They had two children, Ryanne and Edwin.

“Our mother had a special relationship with her children,” said Edwin Lashley, Pat’s son. “She’ll be truly missed.”

Jolley traveled frequently, visiting historical sites, shopping and seeing friends. She also enjoyed sewing, attending Broadway plays and spending time with her children.

Each Sunday, she would dine out with her children, visiting various restaurants in the Delmarva area.

She married Daniel Lee King in 1994; he preceded her in death in 2015 after 22 years of marriage.

Pat and her late mother served as inspiration to more people than they probably realized.

“I’ve known Pat Jolley my entire life,” said Sheree Sample-Hughes, a former Wicomico County Councilwoman who is now speaker pro tempore in the Maryland House of Delegates, where she serves as the delegate representing District 37.

“She and my mother were close friends through church, growing up I was always at the funeral home with Pat’s mother, Loretta, Pat, and Ryanne. My sister used to babysit Ryanne and Edwin. To that end, I was able to see Ms. Loretta Jolley as a strong African-American woman who was running a business while maintaining the foundation for her daughters, a lot of strength and love. She just surrounded their family circle, and was always connected family wise, and through church.”

Monte Twilley of Baltimore, a Salisbury native who attended Wicomico High School with Pat and her sister, Roni, said: “No doubt this is a true loss for the citizens of Salisbury, surrounding counties and the Delmarva Peninsula. My prayers and thoughts go out to her daughter, Ryanne, son Edwin, and sisters Terrelle and Roni.”

Maria White of Salisbury, another lifelong close friend, described Pat as an extraordinary person who never knew a stranger.

“She was my best friend in junior and senior high school,” said White, “but she was everybody’s best friend.”

The two were involved in cheerleading throughout their secondary school years.

“I remember when I first tried out, I was always trying to talk myself out of it, to find a reason why I should not, and Pat would always come up with a reason why I should,” White said.

Growing up, White said she always was made to feel a part of the Jolley family.

“Losing Pat Jolley is still such an emotional event for me right now,” said Carlette Jones Jubilee, a high school friend. “I watched this wonderful lady transform over the years with such positive and at times funny, inspirational affirmations. She was physically beautiful, gifted with an amazing voice and a savvy businesswoman. She loved her family and she gave them the best gift ever, which was the way she loved God. She let the glory of God reflect in everything she did. We will miss you, Pat.”

Like her mother, Jolley was active in the community, serving on a variety of community action boards, including the Salisbury Neighborhood Housing Authority, the Salisbury Historical Task Force and the United Way of the Lower Eastern Shore.

In November 2019, she received the Community Award for her commitment to the Berlin community from Lincoln Lodge Post 53. Jolley Memorial Chapel has a location in Berlin. She also received the WDIH Broadcast Award and was recognized by the Briddell Family of Berlin for her commitment to scholarship and community efforts.

“This is the month of the woman,” said Sample-Hughes. “The fact that she has always put her family first and provided strength as an African-American woman in a lifelong business has certainly been heartfelt — and a role model for me — and will be missed.”

Under the guidance of her mother and grandmother, Jolley was a longtime member of the former John Wesley Methodist Church, now known as Wesley Temple United Methodist Church in Salisbury. She sang in all choirs and was a member of the Methodist Youth Fellowship. At Wesley Temple, she started the first Children’s Choir.

Her current church was Emmanuel Wesleyan Church, where she served on the worship team and as assistant small group leader for the Grief Sharing Ministry.

“She was passionate about her gift of singing,” said her daughter, Ryanne, “and would often sing at funerals for families and church services and other community events.”

“Pat Jolley was an incredible talent,” said Salisbury Mayor Jake Day. “She had an unrivaled spirit and uplifted thousands of people with her voice. She will be missed by our entire community.”

“I grew up with Pat in church at Wesley Temple UMC,” said Salisbury City Councilwoman April Jackson. “Pat has always been a special and great person. Pat and I also were in Emmanuel Wesleyan Small Group and the connection we had was so, so real.”

Jolley’s passion for singing extended beyond her church family. Her love for the arts included dramatic presentations and vocal performances. She performed with several bands, including On The Edge, Shades of Blues and her own group, Special Occasion. Every summer she looked forward to performing at the annual White Party, hosted by Herbie Fletcher.

Her faith in God was unwavering and unapologetic, her friends and family members said, often leading her to minister and intercede on behalf of others through social media. She was a consummate servant leader.

“It’s ironic, I’ve always had love for the funeral home industry, but now I’m in school for my mortician’s license. I told all of them that finally, I’m going in that direction, thanks to that strong foundation, seeing a strong mother figure in Loretta and then in Pat, I could see the strength in an African-American woman at home, said Sample-Hughes.

In November 2019, two years after Loretta’s death, Curlew Road, off Jersey Road near Jolley Memorial Chapel, was renamed in honor of Loretta Jolley.

Sample-Hughes had a role in advocating to get Curlew Road renamed after Loretta Jolley.

“I’m very thankful that we went on and had that street re-naming for her mother,” she said. “Pat said she was so proud to live on her mother’s street, that her mother had such stature n the community.”

Jackson agreed.

“The honorary street naming for her mother brought about another strong connection,” she said. “For two years we stayed the course and accomplished the task with the help of Ryanne, her daughter. One sister wanted to wait until June 2020 to do the honorary street naming, but my response was ‘No one knows what the future holds,’ and I am so glad we decided to keep it as scheduled, in November 2019.”

“It was a great opportunity for the community to come together,” said Sample-Hughes. “There was talk about doing it in June 2020, but Pat said no, it had to be now. There was some pushback from the county but April (Jackson) led the charge. I talked to County Council President John Cannon, I told him we absolutely need to do this. I am so glad Pat had that moment.”

White said Jolley always found something good, no matter the situation.

“If you had a strong opinion about something, she could bring things to some kind of resolution,” White said. “If nothing else, it was to agree but disagree — but still be civil. She didn’t just talk about it, she lived as a model of how to be civil and kind to one another — and to yourself, too. She was all about spreading love and kindness and gentleness.”

“I will be praying for the family and extended family as they prepare to celebrate Pat’s amazing life and legacy,” said Twilley.

“Through all this, the professionalism, the honesty, the bond we made through the years,” said Jackson, “we have lost a friend, mother, sister, aunt, a great person, a business woman, a lovely songstress, a person I’m going to miss forevermore. My heart is truly broken. God bless her children and sisters.”

“She was my best friend, a gem,” said Ryanne. “My heart is broken, but I know she left a powerful legacy that my brother and I will continue.”

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