Mary Ellen Venable Brogdon

Out of the foothills of the Ozarks, from the Boston Mountain range, in a small town called Dutch Mills, AR, came a little girl named Mary Ellen Venable. Her parents were Bill and Anna Venable, and her little sister is Anna Ruth Munnerlyn. She grew up loving the outdoors and helping her daddy with the farm work. Mary Ellen brought in water from the well and wood for the stove, but most of all she loved taking care of all the different animals on the farm. She attended the one-room schoolhouse that was on the farm, where her mother was the teacher until the school was moved to Lincoln.

Mary Ellen followed in her mother’s footsteps and became a teacher as well, getting her degree from Ouachita Baptist University. Upon graduation, Mary Ellen moved to Wardell, MO where she began her teaching career. It was in Wardell where she met and married John Kimmer in 1963. Their daughter Lori Ann was born in 1966. When John’s health started failing, Mary Ellen’s determination kicked in. She wrote letters to corporations and individuals asking for assistance in getting the kidney machine, which was necessary to save his life. She was trained to operate a kidney machine and one was placed in their home in 1971, with John ultimately receiving a kidney transplant in 1972. Mary Ellen’s determination kicked in again, as her biggest concern over the past year was advocating for her daughter, Lori. Wherever she went, she told people that Lori needed a kidney. She has the same kidney disease as her father. Mary Ellen continued working full-time and caring for Lori while she traveled to Memphis and St. Louis to be an advocate and caregiver for John. John predeceased her in 1980, leaving her to be a single parent to Lori. Somehow, during those years, she managed to earn a master’s degree from Arkansas State University. Mary Ellen’s high school students consistently placed in state competitions, and many of them have contacted Lori to tell her how much they have been helped by what she taught them.

Lori married David Jones in 1986, and they gave her two precious grandchildren, Jon David Jones (Jessica) and Sarah Jones. Jon David and Jessica have blessed the family with two beautiful daughters, Langley Byrd Jones, and Georgia Wren Jones. Both girls love taking care of animals just like their great-grandmother. In 1987, Mary Ellen reconnected with Edward Brogdon, and the two were married in July of that year. Ed has a daughter, Mary Lynne Massey (Chris), who gave her two additional grandchildren, Brandon Massey (Samantha) and Lauren Massey. Brandon and Sam have a darling little girl named Rhea. Ed predeceased her in 2020. Mary Ellen was very active in the music ministry of Kennett United Methodist Church in

Missouri, and Liberty Baptist Church in Dutch Mills, Arkansas, playing both the piano and organ and singing in the choir. Helping people in need was especially important to her, and supporting spreading the gospel through The Gideons brought her immense joy. She was an avid gardener and hobbyist. She remained in Arkansas until she could no longer live alone in 2022. At that time, she went to Virginia to be near her daughter.

Lori’s significant other, Brad Watkins, became incredibly special to Mary Ellen as it was his determination to get her to Trinity United Methodist Church (Poquoson, VA) as often as possible that brought her the most joy in the past year. She loved going to church, especially hearing the various music, whether it was the choir, organ, or bells.

David’s fiancé, Carol Cooper, brought laughter and smiles to her every time she visited. Mary Ellen is also survived by Anna Ruth’s children: Jamie Hamilton (Chris) {Christian and Jack great nephews}, Mary Frances Smith (Ronald) {Desirae Young, great niece (Josh) and great-great nephew Carson}, Julie Petty (Brian) {Logan and Warren, great nephews}, and William Munnerlyn. There are numerous cousins whom she loved greatly, including Cathy Venable, David Venable, Robert Venable, and Richard Venable. Mary Ellen was ushered into heaven on April 18, 2023, as her granddaughter Sarah and Pastor Tricia Riggs sang It Is Well With My Soul, and David and Lori prayed. It was beautiful.

The family will receive friends on Saturday, April 29, 2023, from 1:00 p.m. to 2:00 p.m. at Trinity United Methodist Church in Poquoson, VA. A memorial service will take place following the visitation at 2:00 p.m. The burial will be held at Luginbuel Funeral Home later.


  1. Margaret Holcomb

    Our hearts will be with you as you celebrate Mary Ellen’s life well-lived at the service on April 29. We want to be by your side at the time of her return to the foothills of the Ozarks and the family and friends who loved her here. She gave so much to so many.

    Margaret and Jo,
    daughters of Henrietta Kimbrough Holcomb

    • Lori Jones

      Hi Margaret,
      I’m bringing Mom back to Dutch Mills on Aug 5th. We will have a service at 10:30 am at Liberty Baptist Church. There will be a meal following for family. Do you think you will be able to make it? Here’s my # (757) 508-7748.

  2. Julie (Belcher) May

    I will always remember Mrs. Brogdon – a highly respected, excellent teacher at Holcomb High in Holcomb, MO. She taught us vital skills that are sorely needed today. Class of ‘91 – Godspeed Mrs. Brogdon. Say hi to my brother in Heaven, who also loved you as a teacher.

  3. Susan (True) Berntzen

    Back in the early 70’s, Mrs. Kimmer, as she was known then, was my favorite teacher at Holcomb High School. She taught me typing, shorthand (which I was never good at) and bookkeeping. These are skills that I used throughout my career. My condolences to her family. She was a great remodel.

  4. Dawn Dement Detring

    Lori, you were a little girl when I had your mother for typing then bookkeeping. I’m from the Holcomb Class of 1972. I checked Google every few months for her name. Today, a classmate posted that she saw her obituary in the Kennett paper. I’m so sorry for you loss. I’m sending thoughts and prayers to you and your family.

  5. Debra Broglin Puckett

    Lori, so sorry to hear about your Mom. I had her all 4 years of HS at Holcomb. She was a great teacher & person. I remember you as a little girl & your Mom working so hard to help your Dad be well. I saw you years later when you & your husband were stationed with my daughter, Jennifer Daack, with her family in Wichita. I was class of 72 & again your Mom was a great teacher! Prayers for your family.

  6. Kim Crawford Johnston

    I’m so sorry for your loss. I am a 1977 graduate of Holcomb High School and remember Mrs. Kimmer very well. She was a remarkable teacher. I used many, many of the things she taught me in my 30 year career as an office manager.

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