Kathryn Exum



Kathryn Exum

Kathryn D. Sensibaugh Mehr Exum, known to friends as Kay or Miss Kathryn and to family as Ma Kay or Granny, passed from this life on June 3, 2011, at age 87 years 9 months and 3 days at McNairy County Regional Hospital.  She had a stroke two years ago and had fought many battles since, finally succumbing to the last one.  Kathryn was born in Peru, Indiana, on August 31, 1923, to the late Nola Marie Mutchel and Lester Clarence Sensibaugh. She had one sister, Alice Marie, and two brothers, Dale and Josiah (Joe) Sensibaugh; eight half siblings on her mother’s side – Edward and Irma (died as infants), Doris, Robert, Evelyn, Thelma, Alfred (Al), and Richard Beam and 7 half sisters and 2 half brothers on her father’s side. Kathryn and Joe were raised by their mother and her family. Her sister Alice and brother Dale were raised by their father’s family.  She grew up in the Peru and Fort Wayne, Indiana, area, spending some time in her mid to late teens in Minnesota.  After a youthful and too brief marriage ended, she and her young son Larry Thomas Rolf, January 10, 1942, moved to California to live with family. There she met and later married Charles Mehr on May 16, 1943, in Redding, California.  Charles fell in love with Larry, maybe even before he fell in love with Kathryn, and after they were married, he adopted Larry.

Charlie, who was career Army, was stationed at the Presidio, San Francisco; so they started their marriage on base. They later purchased a typical San Francisco Victorian house near Golden Gate Park and the Presidio. Their son Vern was born at Letterman Army Hospital at the Presidio on October 23, 1949.  Charlie, who was a hospital supply sergeant, was transferred to Murphy Army Hospital in Waltham, Massachusetts, in 1951. Then he was deployed to Japan in 1952, so Kathryn learned more of what it meant to be an army wife. After returning from Japan, he was transferred back to the Presidio, and they again lived in the house on 4th Avenue.  Charlie’s widowed mother, Lena, lived with them for a time. The whole family enjoyed having Grandlady staying with them.  Kathryn and Lena worked well in the kitchen together, making Panachcruckli (Swiss cookies) fairly often. It was an all day process, which filled all the kitchen and pantry counters (and it was a BIG kitchen). The boys definitely enjoyed the fruits of their labors.  Evidently, Lena helped instill a joy for cooking in Kathryn, because she later managed a donut shop and a school cafeteria, besides cooking and baking for her family.  She also enjoyed reading, crafting of different types, and crocheting, making beautiful afghans for most of her family. Games of many types – dominoes, canasta, and pinochle – were one of her favorite pastimes. Kathryn loved Southern gospel, country, and pop music and had a large record collection.  In 1959, she moved across country (following the old Route 66) to Woodbridge, Virginia; where she and Jerry Exum would blend their families. Then in 1966, they retired to McNairy, Tennessee where she lived until after his death in 1987. She moved to Stantonville, Tennessee, after she married W. R. Huckabee in 1990. Sometime after his death she moved back to the McNairy community until she had a stroke in May 2009.  Since that time she has resided at McNairy County Health Care.  Kathryn attended and was a member of Forty Forks Baptist Church for most of the years that she lived in the area. She accepted salvation and was baptized in 1998 by her son, Vern C. Mehr, while attending there. She attended Northbrook Church in Three Way, Tennessee, with Vern’s family for a number of years. She became a member there and experienced tremendous spiritual growth while attending Northbrook.  She later rejoined the Forty Forks congregation, which was closer to home.  Kathryn was preceded in death by a grandson, Kevin, in 1965; by her son, Larry T. Mehr in 2007; and by her brothers Dale and Joe and her sister Alice. She is survived by her son, Vern C.  and wife Vina Tull Mehr of Bethel Springs; by Larry’s widow Phyllis Green Mehr of Luray, Tennessee; son Jerry Pete and wife Sandra Underwood Exum of Carolina Beach, North Carolina;  sons Isaac Donald and wife Patricia King Exum and Allen Michael  and wife Debbie Jenkins Exum of Selmer. She is also survived by thirteen grandchildren – Chris and wife Donna DeVitto Mehr of Jacksonville, Florida; Jon and wife Jennifer Pickle Mehr of Selmer; Adrian Mehr of Bethel Springs; Ben and wife Shana Rainville Mehr of Northboro, Mass.; Tommy and Carolyn Mehr of Stantonville; Lisa Mehr Foust of Spring Hill, Tennessee; Tim Mehr of Luray, Tennessee; Bridget Exum and husband Rusty Gibson of Strasburg, Virginia; Steven and Denise Ousley Exum of Wilmington,  North Carolina;  Craig Exum and wife of Tennessee; Jeff and wife Angie M. Exum of Tennessee; and Jason Exum of Selmer, Tennessee.  Surviving Kathryn are 20 plus great-grandchildren. Services were held on June 7, 2011 at 4:00 PM at Shackelford Funeral Directors in Selmer, Tennessee, with Chuck Maxwell, Randy Smith, Vern Mehr officiating. Serving as Pallbearers were Chris Mehr, Jon Mehr, Adrian Mehr, Ben Mehr, Peyton Mehr, Jan Mehr, Brenden Mehr, Elijah Mehr.