James Edward “Jay” Gentry, Jr., son of the late James Edward Sr. and Edith (Coble) Gentry, was born on September 15, 1928 in Richville, Missouri, and departed this life on May 18, 2015 in Kabul Nursing Home in Cabool, Missouri. He was 86 years, eight months, and three days of age.
The Richville store and post office was owned and operated by Jay’s parents, with his mother being the postmaster. Jay attended grade school at Pleasant Mound and graduated from Ava High School in 1947. Seeking adventure, he and some class buddies headed west and ended up following the wheat harvest through several states for a couple years, finally settling in South Dakota.
In 1949, he was united in marriage to Pat Horn. In 1950, their daughter, Editha, was born.
Jay and his family moved to Willow Springs, Missouri, in 1951. There they bought and operated a locker plant. During deer season, Jay said, “People would bring their deer to be processed and pile them up in front of the locker plant,” which was located downtown on Main Street.
In 1955, their son James Edward “Eddie” was born. Jay and Pat later divorced. On June 2, 1976, Jay married Wanda Gilley-Welch in Willow Springs.
Jay went to work for the U.S. Postal Service in 1957. He walked about 15 miles a day in all kinds of weather. Jay said there was an old doctor that once told him he had the best job in town. Jay later became the postmaster, serving at Vanzant, Norwood, and Brookshire, Missouri. He retired in 1990, after 33 years.
Jay loved to golf in his younger years. He and a good friend would enjoy getting up at daybreak to play golf before going to work. He also liked to hunt and fish, especially grabbing suckers and having big fish fries for family and friends.
Jay’s greatest hobby after retirement was genealogy. He and Wanda made many trips and spent lots of hours searching in courthouses, libraries, and cemeteries. He enjoyed this for several years, until his health began to fail.
Besides his parents, Jay was preceded in death by his son, Eddie; his brother, Ruben Gentry; his two sisters, Neva Proctor and husband Wiley, and Lilly Linder and husband Max.
Jay is survived by his wife, Wanda of the home; his daughter, Editha Simmons and husband Craig of Republic, Missouri; two stepchildren, Dennis Welch and Brenda Koontz; three grandchildren, Jamie Gentry, David Gentry and Sarah Strecker; five step-grandchildren, Stacy Hylton, Kerri Criner, Amy Brummet, Ruskin Welch, and Riley Welch; one sister-in-law, Winifred Gentry; five favorite nephews and one niece, Kerry Proctor, Jerry Proctor, Darrel Proctor, Curtis Gentry and Kenneth Gentry, and Janice Smith; and a host of other family and friends.