Anna Marjorie Dunnavant, 88, passed away at Huntsville Hospital Monday morning, November 21, after a brief illness. Since 2014, she had lived at the Brookdale Place retirement home in Huntsville, but she spent most of her adult life in Limestone County, becoming a beloved wife, mother, friend and civic leader.
Born near the Prospect community in Giles County, Tennessee, on May 11, 1929, to Floyd and Olice Hughes, she graduated from Giles County High School in 1946. From an early age, music was an important part of her life. She played French horn in the high school band, which performed as far away as Nashville, and was also a gifted vocalist. These talents won her a full scholarship to Western Kentucky University in Bowling Green, but fate intervened when she went to sing on a live radio broadcast in downtown Pulaski, operated by Robert (Bob) Dunnavant, who was just back from service in World War II. Marjorie soon decided to give up her musical ambitions, marrying Bob on September 15, 1946. They would have seven children, all boys, and be married for more than 61 years, living most of those years in Athens.
While raising their large family, Marjorie was able to put her creativity and dedicated nature to work in several different fields. In the early 1960s, she was employed as a copywriter for Frank Taylor Advertising in Birmingham, working on the Golden Flake potato chip account. During their days in Athens, she was employed as a bookkeeper at Ben Jaffe department store and Athens Florist, and in sales at Sears. She assisted in various ways at the family business, radio stations WJMW-WJOF, including administering the Community Club Awards program, and later joined her husband in leading popular bus tours to Nashville's country music scene, which culminated with backstage visits to the Grand Ole Opry.
Active for many years in the homemakers' club culture, Marjorie was recognized as Clubwoman of the Year in 1969, and was well known for her civic involvement, including co-chairing a local March of Dimes fundraising drive, and as the longtime chairman of the board of patrons of the Houston Memorial Library. She was instrumental in breathing new life into the aging library, including launching and administering the popular Houston Street Fair, reflecting her love of books, her preservationist impulse, and her unbridled affection for the community.
Dunnavant is survived by five sons (William Edward Dunnavant, Thomas Crutcher Dunnavant, Ronald Glenn Dunnavant, James Homer Dunnavant, and Andrew Keith Dunnavant); four daughters-in-law (Mary Dunnavant, Alice Dunnavant, Patti Dunnavant and Tracey Dunnavant); a brother (Alvin Hughes); a sister (Angeta Andersen); two sisters-in-law (Joy Hughes and Maureen Hughes); seven grandchildren (Crutcher Dunnavant, Artise Stewart, Aimee Martin, Jeffrey Dunnavant, Phillip Dunnavant, Jason Dunnavant, and Brittany Dunnavant); 7 great-grandchildren; and various other family members and friends who appreciated her kind heart, her good humor, and the pride she took in the large family, scattered across the country, that sprang out of a teenage girl's conscious decision to trade one dream for another.
She was preceded in death by her husband, two of their children (Donald Lynn Dunnavant, who died as an infant, and Robert Dunnavant Jr.), both parents, and a brother, Carroll Hughes.
Visitation will be Wednesday 1:30-2:45 p.m. at Limestone Chapel in Athens, followed by the funeral at 3 p.m., with Arvid McGuire and David Cox participating, and burial at Athens City Cemetery.
In lieu of flowers, the family requests donations to St. Jude's Children's Hospital in Memphis.
Published on November 21, 2017