Mary Lou Gentry, 81, a resident of Cabool, Missouri, for over 74 years, passed away Thursday, October 30, 2008.
She was born on February 27, 1927 to Henry and Glennie Burchett of Humansville, Missouri. She was raised on a farm in rural Cedar County, Missouri, north of Stockton and not far from Caplinger Mills. Her dad had an old-time country store that supplied the rural area with just about everything a person would need. The store building still stands today about seven miles west of Humansville on Highway N.
Mary Lou had one older sister, Berniece Crawford, affectionately known as “Ma” by her family, who preceded her in death ten years ago. Mary Lou’s mother, Glennie, died when Mary Lou was about seven. Henry remarried and her stepmother did not seem to accept Mary Lou. Berniece and her husband, Clay Crawford, who were at that time living in Cabool, Missouri, asked Henry if they could take Mary Lou to live in Cabool with them. He consented and Cabool was never the same when this eight-year-old girl made it her home. She was active in school activities, including band as a drum major, and graduated in the class of 1944.
After high school she attended Southwest Baptist University, which was a two-year school. She then worked at Producers Creamery as a bookkeeper. It later became Mid-America Dairymen and then DFA.
She met Jim Gentry, who served in the South Pacific as a Marine and fought at Guadalcanal, Tarwara, Saipan and Tinian. They were married in 1947 and completed 61 years of marriage this year. She encouraged Jim to finish mortuary college in St. Louis. She worked at Stix Baer and Fuller in St. Louis while he finished school and then they moved back to Cabool and worked for and purchased Elliott Funeral Home from Gaylord and Iola Elliott. Mr. Elliott told Jim that Mary Lou would be very good as a co-funeral director, so they followed that advice and the rest is a remarkable history of professionalism, compassion and caring for hurting families while striving to do every service to perfection. She and Jim owned and ran the funeral home for over 50 years.
Jim and Mary Lou had a son, Ronnie Gentry, who died as a toddler. She is survived by her husband, Jim, and daughter and son-in-law Peggy and Roger Lindsey of Cabool, grandson Scott Lindsey and wife Mandy of Licking, Missouri, and great-grandson Carson Lindsey. She is also survived by son and daughter-in-law Jay and Nancy Gentry and grandson Jayson Gentry of Cabool and a host of other relatives and friends.
She was a friend to everyone and could talk sports, antiques or business with anyone. Mary Lou never met a stranger and loved to tease with friends and acquaintances. Family, friends and her community were a great source of pride.
Mary Lou knew about as many preachers in the area and probably heard more messages through their business than most. She was a good decision-maker and leader, but made her most important decision early in life when she accepted Jesus as her Savior and was baptized in the First Baptist Church of Cabool at the age of nine.
She was an ardent sports fan, following the Cabool Bulldogs and MU Tigers and later the MSU-West Plains Grizzlies and, of course, always the St. Louis Cardinals. She started The Caboodle antique store and had rental houses and some rental businesses and still had a 250-acre farm at Humansville.
Poor health in recent months prevented her from weekly visits to her hairdresser, Norma Jean, and tours of the countryside as well as regular attendance at Nevills’ Saturday night auctions. She did enjoy reading the country news items in the Cabool Enterprise and keeping up with community events through family and friends.
Her family brought her great joy. She was known as “Grammy” in the family and known for being a great cook and the life of the gathering, usually giving instructions as how everything should be done. She taught her family to work hard and not give up and to consider how their actions would affect others and to be generous. She knew her time was short and let her family know of her love and what her final wishes were, while wishing for more time to get things done.
She passed away peacefully October 30, 2008, just after praying with Bro. Bob Martin. This elegant lady and business woman, mother, grandma, wife and friend will be missed.
Memorial services were Monday, November 3, 2008 at 1:30 p.m. in First Baptist Church of Cabool, preceded by a private family interment at Cabool Cemetery under the direction of Elliott-Gentry-Carder Funeral Home.
In lieu of flowers, memorial donations may be made to Cabool Cemetery or TCMH Healthcare Foundation c/o; Elliott-Gentry-Carder Funeral Home, P.O. Box 708, Cabool, MO 65689.