Cleo was born on Jan. 2, 1910, in Lineville, to Charles Henry Preston and Stacey Grace Preston. She was the second of nine children. First educated in Walker County, she completed high school at Center and then attended teacher's training at Florence State. After obtaining her certificate she taught elementary school in Oakman. There she also met Evans Hall "Pat" Earnest and they were married Aug. 6, 1937. Cleo always bragged about how she survived Pat's work with the Army Corps of Engineers, a job that took the newlyweds to 29 different towns in their first 29 months of marriage! Their son, Mike, was born in 1940. In 1952 Cleo, Pat and Mike moved to Nangal, India where Pat was supervisor of drilling and grouting for a large dam and power plant project. Subsequently Cleo and Pat went to multiple international jobs including Tunisia, Venezuela and the St. Lawrence Seaway on the Canada-US border. They retired to Forestdale in 1972 to live close to family. After a busy retirement Pat died in 1992, so Cleo joined a retirement community in Birmingham. In 2004 she moved to Denver to be near her son. She lived in comfort and good spirits in Holly Heights Nursing Center until her death on Dec. 20.
She is survived by her son, Dr. Michael Preston Earnest (Denver, Colo.); three grandchildren, Elisabeth Buccino (Seattle), Dr. David Earnest (Norfolk Va.) and Joshua Earnest (Denver); five great-grandsons, Benjamin, Izaiah, Jeremiah, Zachary and Josiah; and by two brothers, the Rev. C. Henry Preston (Chattanooga, Tenn.) and John D. Preston (Hayden ).
Cleo was a genteel and cultured lady, always proud of her attractive appearance. She loved her family dearly, wrote and published poetry, and was devoted to her church. We are grateful for her many years with us. We will miss her warm smiles and gentle spirit.
You may register online at
Kilgore-Green Funeral Home, Jasper; 205-384-9503