The saying “A picture is worth a thousand words” resonates with truth and regard for two Crescent City families whose bond has flourished over three generations.
The picture, displayed within the homes of Suzanne, Bill and Joe Pickens, is one that reflects not only a simpler time, but also the kinship that often interweaves into the very fabric of a small-town community. “It’s a fond memory of a wonderful time,” said Joe Pickens of the 1960s photo of three children relishing a wheelbarrow ride given by family friend and longtime employee, Cecil Clemons.
The bond between the Clemons and Pickens families began in the 1930s as the two households intertwined while working and raising their families side by side. The following decades would witness the second generation - Fred Clemons and Bob Pickens - prospering within the community as Fred’s children, Alease, George and Greg Clemons, became close friends and classmates with Suzanne, Bill and Joe Pickens.
With the recent passing of Fred Clemons, Joe Pickens, President of St. Johns River State College, announced that the Clemons family legacy will carry on with a scholarship named in Cecil and Fred’s honor. Each year, a Crescent City student will be selected to continue his or her education, an ideal that was very dear to Fred, said daughter Alease Clemons-Stroman.
“Anyone who knew my dad knew that it was always about the kids and getting an education,” Alease said. “My dad would be so proud. What a wonderful tribute. It says so much about not only my father, but my grandfather, and the respect that this community had for them and their hard work over many, many years.”
Fred, known as Crescent City’s “go-to man,” retired as the superintendent of public works after 44 years. Alease described her father as a man who survived various struggles throughout his earlier years and was determined to live by example, inspiring others who sought a better way of life.
Fred joined the United States Navy, serving in Japan in 1952. He later became the Pastor of the New Life Center Church of God in Christ in Citra for 32 years, while raising four sons and five daughters.
Cecil worked for the Pickens family for approximately 37 years. “Our memories of Cecil are among our very first memories,” said Pickens. “And growing up with his grandchildren are among some of our fondest memories.”
Cecil passed away in 1973, leaving behind a legacy of 11 children, with one preceding him in death, 94 grandchildren and 18 great grandchildren.
Pickens said he is fortunate to be in the position to create a scholarship that will benefit fellow Crescent City residents while honoring two of the community’s icons.
“This scholarship represents three generations of Crescent Citians, who together, were part of building a community, growing a community and living through interesting and changing times,” Pickens said. “For the two families, it’s a very sentimental tribute.”
Joe announced the scholarship during Fred’s memorial service in September. “I don’t think there was a dry eye in the church,” Alease said. “Six months later, the announcement of the scholarship is still being talked about within the community.”
“We thank the Pickens family,” she continued. “We will be forever grateful to this family.”
For more information regarding the Fred and Cecil Clemons Scholarship, contact SJR State’s Open Campus at (386) 312-4211.
SJR State President Joe Pickens holds a 54-year-old photograph of himself and his siblings, Suzanne and Bill Pickens, with longtime family friend and employee, the late Cecil Clemons.
This circa 1960 photograph of the late Cecil Clemons is still to this day fondly displayed within the homes of Suzanne, Bill and Joe Pickens. The Clemons and Pickens families have remained close since the 1930s.
Two families reunite to celebrate an SJR State scholarship honoring two Crescent City icons. The Fred and Cecil Clemons Scholarship was recently announced and will benefit one Crescent City student each year. Pictured are from left to right, front row, Erika Clemons, Zorena Clemons-Morris, Suzanne Pickens and Alease Clemons-Stroman. Back row are Bill Pickens, Gregory Clemons and SJR State President Joe Pickens.