On Tuesday, June 1, 2021, Curtis Eugene (Gene) Jarnagin completed an extraordinary 82-year journey on this earth. His journey began on June 27, 1939 in Grainger County, Tennessee as the third youngest of nine children. In the early 1940’s, his destination became Kingswood Home for Children in Bean Station, Tennessee, where he lived a major portion of his youth. During his teenage years, he lived in Morristown on Second Avenue South or Ray Town as the locals called it.
On one particular fall day in 1960, he and a few friends went to a Manley School Fun Day where he met the love of his life - a beautiful 15-year-old young woman - Mary Charles Hazelwood. It was love at first sight and after a two-year courting period, Gene and Mary eloped and were married in the back of an old feed store in Western North Carolina on January 3, 1962. Once the newlyweds came back to Morristown, they began their life on the family farm of Mary’s parents - Lewis and Lexie [Smallman] Hazelwood, on Old Oak Lane. During this time, Gene and Mary worshipped at Central Baptist Church, where Mary’s father was song leader and Mary was pianist.
The start of the family journey began on October 12, 1963 with the birth of Carolyn Rebecca (Becky); the second birth on December 30, 1965 with the arrival of Jennifer Denise; and number three arriving on September 14, 1973 with the birth of Clark Edwin.
Once the three children were out on their own, the journey began to add new destination points to this family map. In 1985, Becky married William Timothy (Tim) Bell [deceased in 1995] and added two new branches to the Gene and Mary Jarnagin family tree - Robert Preston (1989) and Rachael Christine (1991). In 1989, Jennifer married Lawrence Dean Baird and then added more branches to the tree - William Curtis (1994) and Timothy Adam (1996). In 2000, Clark married Kendra [Rains] and added the last two grand-branches with the birth of Cayden Ellis (2004) and Lance Christian (2006).
The journey thus far has had many ups and downs - and myriad other stories too many to tell. One of the ups occurred when daughter Becky married Hal Rehorn in 2008; another occurred when granddaughter Rachael married Akeen Anthony in 2016; another in June 2019 when grandson Robert married Camryn [Brown]; and another in October 2019 when grandson Adam married Elizabeth (Lizzi) [Mathis].
It is important to note within this wonderful journey, Gene had special family members he would lovingly call as his own children - nephews Dale and Charlie Cobble, Tony Finchum and Barry Jarnagin. Gene also had self-proclaimed surrogate children with Lisa [Darnell] Green, Thomas Lawson, Terry Rust, and many others too numerous to mention but special nonetheless.
Another portion of this journey would be remiss not to mention Gene’s last surviving sibling - Frank Jarnagin along with Frank’s daughter Frankie (Jarnagin) Cate, Frankie’s husband Jay and their children. Gene also has a half-brother, Franklin, who lives in Maryville, Tennessee.
82 years. Some have lived longer; others have not. But for this family, it is not the quantity of years, but the quality of the time spent with the years granted to travel. Gene’s earthly journey may have ended, but his legacy will live on forever. He was a faithful servant of Jesus Christ. He always thought about others before himself. He led by his actions - not by his words. He taught his family the meaning of having more than worldly possessions. He left his family with an absolute peace knowing his new journey has just begun - a forever journey with his King - and a life where the words “well done good and faithful servant” are now part of the new and best story yet to be told.
In lieu of flowers, the family has requested donations be sent to Kingswood Home for Children, PO Box 5000, Bean Station, TN 37708 in memory of Gene Jarnagin.
During the last section of this journey, Gene and Mary became members of Morningside Baptist Church where they have forged life-long friendships. It is at this place where Gene’s life celebration will take place. Receiving of friends will be from 4:00 – 8:00 pm Thursday, June 3, 2021, prior to the service at 8:00 with Kenny Boling officiating. Graveside services are planned for 11:00 a.m. Friday, June 4, 2021, in Jarnagin Cemetery
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