Imogene Allen Erickson, 80, of Yazoo City, passed away peacefully on Sunday, December 3, 2017 after a lengthy battle with cancer. She was under hospice care at St. Catherine’s Village in Madison.
Imogene was born in Augusta, Georgia on November 22, 1937 to Charles Wesley and Marybelle Allen. She later lived in both North Carolina and South Carolina before moving to Yazoo City in 1951, where she would eventually reside in the heart of downtown on Main Street with her parents and six siblings.
In 1957, after being chosen as Miss Yazoo City, Imogene went on to become Miss Mississippi. She was the last winner to be crowned on the Gulf Coast in Biloxi before the pageant officials moved the contest to Vicksburg. She performed a modern jazz dance in a French dancer’s costume in combination with a painting demonstration that wowed the judges.
Imogene Allen Day was proclaimed by Yazoo City Mayor Harry Applebaum complete with a parade, barbecue and a gala ball that evening. Every civic service club in the town was involved.
She enjoyed traveling throughout the state accepting speaking engagements, modeling and fashion consultations. One of her fondest memories was appearing on The Ed Sullivan Show and then meeting Joe DiMaggio and Mickey Mantle backstage. She participated in the Lions International Parade in Chicago, where her float (A Mississippi Steamboat) won first place. She was honored to represent Mississippi in the Miss America Pageant held in Atlantic City, N.J.
She returned to college at MSCW, completing her sophomore year in 1958. Among her many honors were “Dream Girl” of Pi Kappa Alpha Fraternity at Mississippi State University and “Most Beautiful at MSCW. Her studies included dancing, piano and art.
After her reign ended in 1958, she married her high school sweetheart, John Erickson. She was a dedicated homemaker and supportive wife as her husband farmed in the Delta and they raised four children there on Wolf Lake.
She was the epitome of a Southern lady as etiquette and manners were very important to her. She loved to socialize and was friends with everyone.
Imogene was very active in her community, serving on various boards of numerous civic and volunteer organizations. She loved cooking, sewing, painting and gardening. She especially loved watching football and rarely missed an SEC game.
She was a dedicated member of St. Mary’s Catholic Church. Throughout her many years of illness and pain her faith and trust in the Lord never wavered, and now she will live in peace with Him for eternity.
She was preceded in death by her parents; her husband, John J. Erickson III; a son, John “Jay” Erickson IV; and brothers, Charles Allen and David Allen.
Survivors include her daughters, Kathy Coker and Neetsie Gary (Butch) of Yazoo City; son, Kirk Erickson (Kim) of Madison; brother, Robert Allen of North Carolina; sisters, Barbara Swayze of Benton, Olivia Bowman of Bentonia and Frances Barbour of Jackson; six grandchildren and eight great-grandchildren.
A funeral mass will be celebrated at 11 a.m. on Wednesday, December 6 at St. Mary’s Catholic Church in Yazoo City with a visitation preceding the service at 9 a.m. Burial will follow at Glenwood Cemetery under the direction of Stricklin-King Funeral Home.
In lieu of flowers, memorials may be made to St. Mary’s Catholic Church, 129 N. Washington Street, Yazoo City, MS 39194 or the American Cancer Society.
Serving as pallbearers are Ryan Gary, Joseph Erickson, Henry Barbour, Kevin Erickson, Michael McGraw and Allen Swayze. Billy Joe Paulson will serve as an honorary pallbearer.