Mary Ellen Steele
- Born: 28 Jan 1920, Tazewell, Tazewell Co., VA.
- Marriage: Dr. George Eakin Naff Jr. on 23 Aug 1941
- Died: 16 Sep 2013, Athens Regional Medical Center, Athens, Tennessee at age 93
- Buried: 30 Sep 2013, The cemetery at Emory & Henry College, Emory, VA.
Virginia, Birth Records, 1864-2014
Name: Mary Ellen Steel
Birth Date: 28 Jan 1920
Birth Place: Tazewell, Virginia
Mary Ellen Steele Naff
January 28, 1920 - September 16, 2013
Resided in Athens, TN - See more at: http://www.mccammonammonsclick.com/obituary/Mary-Ellen-Steele-Naff/Athens-TN/1368955#sthash.hU2r97kx.dpuf
Obituary Published in the Knoxville News Sentinel on Sept 23, 2013
Mary Ellen Steele Naff , 93, passed away on Monday, September 16, 2013 at Athens Regional Medical Center in Athens, Tennessee. She was preceded in death by her parents, her husband, Dr. George E. Naff, Jr. , and siblings Evelyn Garrett, Jack Steele, and Josephine Steele.
Mary Ellen was born on January 28, 1920 at her family's home in Tazewell, VA. She was the youngest child of Walter and Clara Steele. When Mary Ellen was 10 years old the family moved to Emory, VA. where she attended nearby Meadowview Elementary and Glade Springs High School. By her early teens, she was making a name for herself playing the popular songs of the day on the piano at Emory & Henry college and fraternity functions. Mary Ellen attended Emory & Henry, where she dashed the hopes of several young men when she gave her heart to a skinny, goofy guy from Cleveland, TN named George Naff. Their senior yearbook described her thusly, "This talented young lass, with the cute smile and flashing eyes, who can tickle the ivories and send a tingle down your spine with her singing, is bound to make a success ."
George and Mary Ellen graduated from Emory & Henry in 1939 and married there in 1941. George attended seminary and became a Methodist minister, preordaining Mary Ellen's central mission in life, that of "preacher's wife." It was a role she played well and happily for many years across the Holston Conference as they served appointments at Tennessee Wesleyan College, Madisonville, TN, Coeburn, VA, South Pittsburg, TN, Bristol, TN, Abingdon, VA, Oak Ridge, TN, Maryville, TN and again, at Tennessee Wesleyan College where George was President from 1975-1984. Throughout those years, Mary Ellen worked as a public school music teacher, private piano teacher, and often as church choir director or organist. In her spare time she made sure there was a show going on somewhere, either at the church, in the community, or in support of Holston Conference activities. Mary Ellen was a musical mentor to many people, young and old, to the very end of her life. Her services as pianist and vocalist were much in demand in each community in which she lived, including Morning Pointe Assisted Living of Athens, where she spent her last two years. One of her proudest achievements was the conception and direction of three TWC alumni fundraising projects called TWC On Stage, featuring alumni in musical programs in which they recreated their roles in past campus musicals. Proceeds from these productions were used to purchase a new main drape for Townsend Auditorium. For her many contributions to campus and community life, she was given two prestigious awards by Tennessee Wesleyan College \endash the Mary Mildred Sullivan Award for outstanding community service in 1984, and the Harry Steadman Award in 2001 for outstanding support of the college and the Holston Conference of the United Methodist Church.
Mary Ellen lived and greatly enjoyed her later years at Asbury Place in Maryville where George served as chaplain after his retirement from Tennessee Wesleyan. She was an active member of Broadway United Methodist Church in Maryville. She moved to Morning Pointe Assisted Living in Athens in 2011 to be nearer her family.
She is survived by her children, Dr. George E. Naff III and wife, Sue; Dr. Nancy Naff Boardman; Ellen Naff Kimball and husband, Art; grandchildren and their spouses, Paul & Lawton Boardman, Jason Boardman, Ben & Jennifer Boardman, Jordan Boardman, Andrew Kimball & fiancÚ Lindsey Nunley, Whitney Kimball Coe and husband, Matt, Eric Naff, Joseph & Kim Naff, David & Traci Naff., and 8 great- grandchildren.
A memorial service will be held on Sunday, September 29, 2013, 2:30 PM at Broadway United Methodist Church in Maryville, Tennessee. The church will host the receiving of friends following the service in the fellowship hall. Burial will follow on Monday, September 30, 11:00 AM in the cemetery at Emory & Henry College, Emory, VA. In lieu of flowers, donations in her memory are suggested to the Athens Area Council for the Arts, PO Box 95, Athens, TN 37371, Tennessee Wesleyan College, College St., Athens, TN 37303, and Emory and Henry College, Emory, VA 24327.
Mary married Dr. George Eakin Naff Jr. on 23 Aug 1941. (Dr. George Eakin Naff Jr. was born on 30 Dec 1916 in Chattanooga, Tennessee, died on 21 Apr 1998 in Maryville, Blount Co., Tennessee and was buried in The cemetery at Emory & Henry College, Emory, VA..)