Services Friday for legendary East Knox businesswoman

Sandra ClarkEast Knox, Obits

The three hardest-working women I knew as a young adult were Helma Gilreath and her daughters, Jean Underwood and Patti Smith. Mrs. Gilreath, of course, ran Helma’s, the buffet restaurant at Four-Way Inn. She farmed a bit, dabbled in various businesses and raised three kids while feeding truckers pre-interstate and half the town for Sunday dinner.

Patti taught school, raised two boys, farmed a bit and always helped her momma. Jean sold houses through Underwood Realty, taught Sunday School at Lyons Creek Baptist, raised three kids and always helped her momma. I was dazzled at a political event at Helma’s home, hosted by the trio wearing long skirts and behaving most graciously. Only later did I learn that they also had done the event setup and prepared all the food.

Jean Underwood Fox died last week at age 93. She had retired and moved to Sevierville, but her heart remained in Strawberry Plains. Graveside service will be 1 p.m. Friday, July 7, at Trentville Cemetery in Strawberry Plains. Arrangements by Atchley Funeral Home, Sevierville.

Jean was preceded in death by her husbands, Ephraim Underwood and Harry Fox; her parents, Clifford McPeters and Helma Neubert McPeters Gilreath. Her full obituary is here.

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