Cover photo for Mary Frances York's Obituary
Mary Frances York Profile Photo
1933 Mary Frances 2017

Mary Frances York

June 9, 1933 — March 5, 2017

Mary Frances York, 83, a resident of Cleveland, unexpectedly passed away early Sunday, morning, March 5, 2017 after spending time in a regional rehabilitative hospital.  She was a beloved mother and retired school teacher, having taught in Bradley County Schools for 34 years.  She was often greeted in public by her many former students who often proclaimed her the best teacher they ever had.

She was born in Bradley County to Sumpter and Sarah Lawson Colley, both of whom predeceased her.  She had three siblings, Veheda Ledford and Mildred Drake, who also predeceased her, and one brother, Hershel Colley, who survives her.

Mary Frances married her childhood sweetheart, Ralph A. York, who was her husband for 46 years until the time of his death.  She is survived by two children, Roger L. York and Sandra York Benton, and a son-in-law, David M. Benton, who she considered her third child.

She was valedictorian of her graduating class at Charleston High School.  Even though she married Ralph at age 18, she obtained a two-year degree at Lee College that, at that time, allowed her to begin teaching in public schools.  She easily found a position at Michigan Avenue Elementary School, where she taught for 33 years.  In addition, she held a supervisory position for the school system for one year.  During that time she obtained her Bachelor of Science degree from Tennessee Wesleyan College in Athens.

As a child she played piano for the popular child quartet, consisting of her brother, Hershel and sister, Mildred, and two of their friends.  The group sang at many church homecomings and on WBAC radio, and they won a coveted award in a talent show at Arnold School.

Mary Frances also played piano for the Chestuee Quartet led by her husband, Ralph, for many years.

Mary Frances grew up in the Chilcutt and Chestuee areas of Bradley County and she regularly attended both Chilcutt Methodist Church and Chestuee Methodist Church during her childhood and young adult years.

At Christmas, she was known for the well-produced plays she directed for Chestuee Methodist Church.  She once famously convinced Sterichi’s Furniture Store in downtown Cleveland to loan her showroom furniture for the setting of one of her plays.

In the 1960’s, she began attending North Cleveland Church of God, where she was a faithful member until the day of her death.  At North Cleveland she was active in the Ladies Prayer and Praise Group and Unity Sunday School Class.

She also donated quietly, but generously, to other area churches, especially smaller churches, throughout her life.

Mary Frances was well known for her elegant attire and her lady like mannerisms.

She was treasurer for 10 years of the Chestuee Memorial Association, which owns and maintains the Chestuee Cemetery.

The funeral will be conducted at 1:00 p.m. on Wednesday, March 8, 2017 in Dixon Chapel at North Cleveland Church of God with Dr. Mark Williams and the Reverend Arris Cavender officiating.  The interment will follow in Chestuee Cemetery.  A white dove release ceremony will conclude the service.

Members of the Ladies Prayer and Praise Group and the Unity Sunday School Class who attend the funeral are asked to sit as a group in memory of Mary Frances’s contribution to the groups.

Her family will receive friends from 5:00 - 8:00 p.m. on Tuesday at Fike-Randolph & Son Funeral Home.

Memorial donations can be made to the North Cleveland Church of God Ladies Prayer and Praise Group, 335 11th Street NE, Cleveland TN  37311 or to the Chestuee Memorial Association, c/o David M. Benton, Treasurer, 2446 Valley Hills Drive NW, Cleveland, TN  37311.

We invite you to send a message of condolence and view the York family guestbook at

To order memorial trees or send flowers to the family in memory of Mary Frances York, please visit our flower store.

Service Schedule

Past Services

Funeral Service

Wednesday, March 8, 2017

Starts at 1:00 pm (Eastern time)

North Cleveland Church of God-Dixon Chapel

335 11th Street Northeast, Cleveland, TN 37311

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