John  Riley  Underwood



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Retired West Tennessee educator, John Riley Underwood, died May 27, 2013, at Morningside Assisted Living.

Visitation will be from 1:00 p.m. until 3:00 p.m. on Wednesday, May 29, 2013, with the funeral to follow at 3 p.m. at Ridgeway Funeral Home. Burial will be in the Puryear City Cemetery.

Dr. Joe Culumber, nephew from Seattle, Wash., and retired Dean of Theology at Greenville College in Greenville, IL, will officiate.

Pallbearers will be grandsons and grandsons-in-law Nolan Poteete, Greg Poteete, John Dale Ross, Derek Parker, Tyler Gamble and Kevin Reed.

Born on July 19, 1921, in Newman, IL, he was the son of Bernice and Ralph Underwood. He received his early education in Newman Township Schools and came to Murray State University on a football scholarship. He completed his masterís degree at Ole Miss and did further post-graduate work at the University of Tennessee at Martin. Underwood spent 36 years as coach, teacher, counselor, principal and superintendent in Humboldt, Trenton, Paris and Covington school systems, serving as the last principal of Grove High School and the first principal of Henry County High School. He retired in 1983.

He was a registered basketball official and refereed in the state tournament. He was in the U.S. Marine Corps in World War II.

John served on the TSSAA Board of Control, Association of Secondary School Principals, committees for Southern Association Evaluation, W.G. Rhea Library Board, Rotary Club, both Trenton and Paris Masonic Lodges, Henry County Sports Hall of Fame and Sunday school teacher at Paris First United Methodist Church. He was an avid duck hunter, bird hunter and fisherman.

In 1942, Underwood married Grace Nelle West of Puryear, TN, who survives. They have four daughters: Judy Tyree (George Perry) of Ripley, TN; Linda Jenkins (John) of Gainesville, FL; Mary Jane Ross (Redgy) and Amy Veazey (Stan), both of Paris.

Grandchildren are Georgianne Tyree, Mary Grace Reed, Martha Parker, John Dale Ross, Emily Gamble, Nolan Poteete, Greg Poteete and eight great-grandchildren.

John was preceded in death by his parents; his sister, Betty Jane Culumber; and nephew, Woody Culumber.

Memorials may be sent to W.G. Rhea Library, 400 W. Washington St., Paris TN, 38242, or Lee Academy for the Arts, P.O. Box 667, Paris, TN 38242.



Post-Intelligencer  Article

John Underwood, who died Monday in Paris at age 91, was the first principal at Henry County High School when its doors opened in 1969.

Underwood worked in the Henry County School System for 11 years.

He was hired as principal of Grove High School in 1964 and remained in the position until all county high schools were consolidated into HCHS.

After two years as principal, Underwood worked for four years as a guidance counselor at Henry County High.

Underwood was born in Newman, Ill. He graduated from Newman Township High School there in 1939.

He lettered in basketball, football and track and earned a football scholarship to the University of Illinois, according to a story in The Post-Intelligencer in 1996, when he was selected to the local Sports Hall of Fame.

The story related that Underwood did not like the large school and transferred to Murray State College, now Murray State University.

His education was interrupted when he served in the U.S. Marine Corps in World War II.

After military service, he returned to Murray and earned his bachelorís degree in 1946. He received his masterís degree in education from the University of Mississippi in 1953.

At Murray, Underwood was selected to Whoís Who in American Colleges and Universities, was elected president of the student body and lettered in football for four years.

He was a critic teacher at Murray State College Training School for six years and was a sports coach for six years in Humboldt.

He continued his career in education in Gibson County, where he served for nine years as superintendent of Trenton Public Schools and principal at Peabody High School there before coming to Grove.

After his tenure in Henry County, he and his wife Grace, who was a high school art instructor, moved to Covington High School in 1976, where he was principal for five years and his wife taught.

The Underwoods moved back to Henry County in 1983, when he retired.

In church, Underwood was a United Methodist. In the community, he was a former member of the Rotary Club.


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Paris, Tennessee
May 28, 2013  Edition ~ Used by Permission

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