Civic leader, business leader, and mentor, Evelyn Whitworth passed away on November 6, 2021. She was 93.
She was born in Cairo, Illinois on July 19, 1928 to Frances Paris Cox and John Cox. She grew up in Charleston and Poplar Bluff Missouri, graduating from PBHS in 1946.
She was the oldest of six children including John, Maurine, Jim, Charlie and Dennis. She loved her family dearly, and they adored her.
In 1947, she married the love of her life, Guy Whitworth. They had two children, Laura, married to Bill Drury Jr. and Steve, married to Terena Prenzel Whitworth. She had four grandsons, Jeff (wife Sarah) and Chris Drury, Matt Whitworth (wife Jenna) and Andy Whitworth. She also had two great- grandchildren, great grandson Owen and great granddaughter Lyla, born to Matt and Jenna Whitworth.
Evelyn lost her beloved Guy to cancer in 1999, but is survived by her loving children, great grandchildren, sister Maurine, and best friend Carol Mott Morse. With her five siblings, and Guy’s seven siblings, she is also survived buy countless nieces and nephews.
Evelyn was a renowned beauty, the Football Homecoming Queen for the PBHS class of ’46. The team that sported many future Poplar Bluff Sport Hall of Famers including her close friend, team manager and sports legend, Sam Giambelluca.
Early in her marriage, Evelyn worked for the DAR, but when daughter Laura came along, she became a stay at home mother, Sunday school teacher, PTA leader, and girl scout leader.
Evelyn dedicated her life to raising her children and doing community service. She was a founding board member of the Jr. Citizenship Club and the Edgewood Children’s Home. She cumulated data for the American Heart Association on the first study of its kind. She taught Sunday School at the Holy Cross Episcopal Church, where she was also active in the St. Margaret’s Guild. Evelyn was appointed to the Butler County Jail Review board to ensure humane treatment of prisoners. She also spent many years on the board of the United Gospel Rescue Mission. She was a board member of the Poplar Bluff History Museum and was a member of the KB Chapter of PEO.
After an idyllic life as housewife and mother while Guy ran the family jewelry business, Evelyn became one of the first lady retail business owners in town with Eve’s Gifts and Antiques. Her store was once featured in a major trade magazine, and had Hollywood stars Roddy McDowell and Dorothy Lamour order custom gifts from her. When her first grandson, Jeff Drury, was on his way, Evelyn sold her shop to babysit her grandsons.
Later on, she and Guy became a mentor for her friend Linda Bloodworth Thomason and her Claudia Girls. In this capacity, they chaperoned exceptional young ladies from PBHS on trips around the world.
The Charlie Classic Reading Program was a component of this program. Around 175 ladies have received scholarships from the Designing Women Foundation, which was born out of the Claudia Foundation.
For their team efforts, Evelyn and Guy were named Poplar Bluff Chamber of Commerce Co-citizens of the year in 1991, the only husband and wife team to be named so.
Anytime there was an important function in town, Evelyn was asked to help decorate and organize it. She always added a touch of class to the event. She and Guy always said of their involvement in the city affairs, “You have to support the folks who support you!”
Evelyn will be greatly missed, but welcomed by Guy in heaven.
Memorials may be given to the Margaret Harwell Art Museum, The United Gospel Rescue Mission, The P. B. History Museum, UCAN, and the Designing Women Foundation.
Visitation will be at on Saturday November 13, at the First United Methodist Church starting at 2:00 p.m.
Her service will begin at 4:00 p.m., David Stewart officiating.