POLLY ELLEN WEBB WHITE died at home October 10, 2022, leaving an enduring mark as a kind and gracious wife, mother, grandmother, friend and neighbor. Polly will be remembered for serving her family, friends, church and community with a smile and a practical, hands-on approach.
She was born January 3, 1932, in Etowah, Tennessee to attorney Reuel Ray Webb and organist Polly Gennoe Webb. She grew up in Etowah with her beloved brother Jones Webb, near her lifelong friend Nancy Cantrell Dender. Polly left Etowah to attend Stephens College in Columbia Missouri, forming lasting friendships with the women of White Hall. After two years, she transferred to the University of Tennessee Knoxville, where Nancy and Bill Dender introduced her to Bill’s ATO brother, P.H. White, Jr.
Polly and “PW” were married in 1953, until PW died in 2009. Following PW’s Army service, they moved to his hometown of Dyersburg. While Polly missed her mother, her friend Nancy, and East Tennessee’s mountains, she adopted the White and Todd clans as her chosen family and embraced West Tennessee as her forever home. She supported PW in his cattle business, his travels as President of the American Hereford Association, and helped him launch the “Cow-Life Cattle Rub” company from the family kitchen table. That business brought Sharon Horner and Bobby Williamson into the family fold, where they remain today.
Polly founded the “Cricket Corner” shop, named for the family’s beloved pet, and founded the First United Methodist Church kindergarten, where she taught for many years. Polly’s “Sewing Circle” friends and their families became extended family--sharing recipes, stories, and laughs for seven decades. Polly and PW loved traveling with Milton and Beverly Magee and with Jack and Elizabeth Todd; and Polly enjoyed 25 years of trips with her Stephens College friends--usually instigated by Margie McBride. Plus, Polly surely traveled thousands of miles on early morning walks with Nellie Pike and Mary Pierce Todd.
First United Methodist Church was her second home, and the Sellers’ Sunday School class was her Sunday family. She favored Charles Wesley hymns and believed every person was the child of a loving God. Polly was a life-long reader, favoring American history and anything about Lewis and Clark. In addition to creating a beautiful home, she stitched exquisite baby gowns and painted beautiful porcelain china. Polly enjoyed gathering all generations around an elegant dining table, or, along with Elizabeth Todd, around a picnic table and ice cream freezer at the family farm.
The highlight of each year was the family gathering in the Smoky Mountains, where five generations of Webbs, Whites, and Gennoes have enjoyed “Aunt Polly’s” sausage rolls and gingerbread men. Unmatched as a mother, Polly made each of her four children feel valued and understood, and she welcomed their friends with chocolate chip cookies each Friday afternoon. She took Halloween costumes, birthday cakes, and Christmas lists seriously and said “yes” to ponies, baby birds, Easter chicks, snakes, and many litters of puppies and kittens.
Celebrating their mother’s life are Nancy White (John Bryan) of Arlington, Virginia; Marion White Tilson (Martin) of Atlanta, Georgia; Sally White Veith of Alexandria, Virginia; and Pierce H. White, III (Amy) of Dyersburg. Celebrating their grandmother’s life are Mary and Elizabeth Bryan; Margaret and Martin Tilson; Jones, Hedy and Anne Craig Veith; Finley White Leslie; and Claire, Caroline, Jack and Ellen White. Polly will be greatly missed by her great-grandson Harrison Leslie; her niece and nephew Julia Webb Davis and Marvin Webb and their families; and cousin Jack Todd and his family.
Memorial gifts may be sent to First United Methodist Church, P.O. Box 452, Dyersburg, TN 38025-0452 or New Life Union Mission 213 West Cedar Street, Dyersburg, TN 38024.
The family will receive visitors at First United Methodist Church Fellowship Hall on Thursday, October 13th from 4:00-6:00 p.m. Following a private family interment at Fairview Cemetery, a memorial service will be held at First United Methodist Church Sanctuary on Friday, October 14, 2022 at 11:00 a.m.
Funeral services are under the direction of Curry Funeral Home. We are privileged and honored to serve the White family. You may share your condolences and your memories with the family at www.curryfuneral.com.