Mary Nell (Murray) Burnett, age 91, passed away peacefully at her home in Jamestown, Tennessee on March 1st, 2018. She was surrounded by her family and caregivers. From her birth on September 16th, 1926 till her death, she nurtured everyone she encountered with love, faith, and compassion.
Mary Nell was born in Morristown, Tennessee to the late Joe and Reba (Noe) Murray. The only child of an Irish immigrant and native East Tennessean, Mary Nell was a shy young girl who spent her youth helping her mother and father run their small general store in Morristown.
After graduating from Morristown High School, she began working at Hamilton National Bank in Morristown. It was there where a co-worker recognized her intellect and encouraged her to pursue higher education. Because she had no money for school, Mary Nell applied for a scholarship to Lincoln Memorial University in Harrogate, Tennessee. Due in part to the generosity of a Pennsylvania man who was an LMU alumnus, she received a scholarship to attend LMU. His act of kindness never left Mary Nell and she frequently praised his generosity throughout her life. Education was important to her, and she encouraged her family to pursue learning opportunities whenever possible.
While attending LMU, she started dating a young naval officer from Morristown who was home on leave during World War II. After a three year courtship she married the love of her life, James W. (Bud) Burnett on October 15, 1947. Their 70-year marriage blessed them with three wonderful daughters: Jamie, Anne, and Becky.
Faith and Family were Mary Nell’s passion and delight. She was a dedicated Christian and lifelong member of the Methodist Church where she served as Church Treasurer for 17 years. Mary Nell was also devoted to her family and relished spending time with her children, grandchildren, great-grandchildren, and great-great grandchildren. Many weekends she could be found surrounded by her family at UT Football games or on the family houseboat. Although she never played an instrument, she had a love for music which led her to encourage and support her family to pursue playing. She also enjoyed reading and membership in the Ladies Reading Circle in Morristown, Jamestown EHC, and the Jamestown Garden Club.
Unlike many women of her era, Mary Nell worked outside the home and played a vital role in the family poultry business, Burnett Poultry Company. While she never had a formal title, she shouldered many responsibilities including the management of the corporate operations.
Her love of travel and adventure took her and Bud across many states and countries. As a testament to her thoughtfulness, she always took time from her trips to find and bring home mementos to her family.
She was affectionately known to her family as Grandmother and will leave behind a legacy of kindness and grace. She was always willing to lend a helping hand to her family and those in need.
Left to honor Mary Nell and remember her love is her husband of 70 years, James W. (Bud) Burnett.
Children: Jamie McGuire and husband, Bill, of Florence, Alabama; Anne Johnston of Cookeville, Tennessee; Becky Atkinson and husband, Don, of Allardt, Tennessee.
Grandchildren: Sandi Clark Herndon and husband, Mark, of Chattanooga, Tennessee; Jimi Joe Simpson of Cookeville, Tennessee; Andrea Clark Lockerby and husband, Teddy, of Cleveland, Tennessee; Heather Johnston Carico and husband, Kevin, of Cookeville, Tennessee; Emily Atkinson Curtis and husband, Matt, of Cookeville, Tennessee; Tyler Atkinson, and wife, Tara, of Cookeville, Tennessee.
Great-grandchildren: Lindsey Herndon; Madison Herndon; Joseph Simpson, and wife, Zoie; James Simpson, and wife, Tabby; Clark Lockerby; Camden Lockerby; Anneston Carico; and Ally Carico
Great-great grandchildren: Hunter Grace Simpson, Hoyt Simpson, and Houston Simpson
The family will greet friends on Friday, March 2nd, 2018 from 5:00 to 8:00 pm at Jennings Funeral Home in Jamestown, Tennessee. An additional visitation will be on Sunday, March 4th, 2018 from 12:00 to 2:00 pm EST at Farrar Funeral Home in Jefferson City, Tennessee. A private graveside service and burial will follow in Jarnagin Cemetery in Morristown, Tennessee.
Memorials may be made to the Jamestown First United Methodist Church or the Fentress County Food Bank.
Jamestown First United Methodist Church Fentress County Food Bank
P.O. Box 723 P.O. Box 723
Jamestown, TN 38556 Jamestown, TN 38556