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Sallie Mae Whitehead-Grissett

October 25, 1922 ~ February 4, 2022 (age 99)


Sallie Mae Whitehead Grissett, the youngest child of Mr. Sim Whitehead, Sr. and Mrs. Ida Smith Whitehead was born in Baldwin, Florida on October 25, 1922.

While growing up in Baldwin, she enjoyed the 4-H Club and traveling to Florida A & M College (now FAMU) for camp.  The 4-H organization introduced her to learning experiences and opportunities in areas of food and agriculture that she would enjoy and pursue for decades. 

She graduated from the 6th grade (Baldwin School Number 114) and moved in with extended family members in Lake City to attend junior high school. At that time, junior and senior high school programs were not available for Black children in Baldwin.  She later moved to Jacksonville, living with other extended family members, and worked to cover her living expenses while attending Stanton High School.  She graduated in 1943.

On July 7, 1943, she married John Grissett and moved to Topeka, Kansas, with her husband who was in the Army. While in Topeka she worked as a civilian with the War Department, Army Air Forces.

After fulfilling the military commitment, she and her husband made their way from the harsh winters of the Midwest back to Florida.  She then moved to New Orleans, Louisiana while her husband attended the Xavier University School of Pharmacy and they later moved to Alexandria, Louisiana. 

While in Louisiana, she advocated for voting rights and spoke out against voter suppression and poll taxes after being challenged to interpret the preamble to the U. S. Constitution in order to vote. Soon thereafter, career opportunities presented themselves that allowed Sallie and her family to return to Florida.

For many years, she was a stay-at-home mother, who worked tirelessly as a volunteer with the Girl Scouts, The March of Dimes, and The American Cancer Society.  She led by example and personified the principles of respect, generosity, honesty, and discipline.  She was known for being forthright in her relationships with friends and loved ones. 

She worked as a volunteer with the Westside Community Club, The Business Women’s Club, the Live Long & Like It Club and served as a dutiful member of the C. A. Gibbs Club of St. Paul AME Church.

She was active in Home Demonstration Clubs through the Department of Agriculture’s Cooperative Extension Service.  Later in life she continued her interest in food and nutrition through a certification program at the University of Florida and became a field instructor advising homemakers how to prepare healthy, economical meals.

She was the family expert in meal preparation and food presentation and enjoyed preparing meals for her family with formal table settings.

As her husband’s business partner in Paris Avenue Pharmacy, she managed daily operations and finances. Additionally, she worked with the Auxiliary of the Medical, Dental & Pharmaceutical Association, having served a term as President.

She worked 10 years with the Visiting Nurses Association providing personal care services to homebound individuals with her last assignment ending in 1985.  She enjoyed gardening, traveling, attending Atlanta Hawks basketball games, HBCU sporting events, and spending time with her children and grandchildren.   

Mrs. Sallie Mae Whitehead Grissett departed this life on Friday, February 4, 2022, peacefully in Jacksonville, Florida.  She was preceded in death by her parents, Mr. & Mrs. Sim Whitehead, Sr., siblings Mable Williams, Sim Whitehead, Jr., Thelma Tyson, and her son Michael Vincent Grissett.

She leaves to cherish her memory her devoted husband, business partner and travel partner of 78 years, John W. Grissett, Sr., four children:  Sidney C. Grissett, Sr. (Nettie); Carlton L. Grissett, Sr. (Vanessa); John W. Grissett, Jr. (Belinda) and Sybil K. Grissett-Creagh, and one Sister-In-Law Beatrice Grissett. 

She also leaves 9 grandchildren, 12 great-grandchildren, 9 great-great grandchildren, many cousins, nieces, nephews, and extended family members.

To send flowers to the family or plant a tree in memory of Sallie Mae Whitehead-Grissett, please visit our floral store.

Memorial Tree
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 Service Program


February 18, 2022

5:00 PM to 7:00 PM
McKinney Family Funeral Home, Inc.
6507 W. Beaver Street
Jacksonville, FL 32254

Funeral Service
February 19, 2022

11:00 AM
St. Paul AME Church
6910 New Kings Road
Jacksonville, FL 32219

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