Eleanor Henson Knee Rooks, age 93, settled into the loving embrace of her Heavenly Father on March 27, 2021. Private graveside services will be held at Trinity Cemetery at Nutbush on Wednesday, March 31, 2021 with the Reverend Will Jones of Memphis officiating. A celebration of Eleanor’s life with extended family and friends will take place in summer at First Presbyterian Church of Brownsville.
Born June 27, 1927 in Louisville, MS to Willard Josephine (née Henson) and Irvin “Tiny” Knee, Eleanor grew up in Ripley, TN and graduated from the University of Mississippi where she was President of Kappa Delta sorority. She married Ned Rooks, her one true love, in 1949 and together they raised four children and were real estate developers in Brownsville.
Eleanor taught in public and private education, was a school guidance counselor, girls basketball coach and served as TN Asst. Commissioner of Education under Gov. Lamar Alexander. Active in the Republican Party at local, state and national levels, she was TFRW state president, a key organizer for many successful state and federal campaigns, and attended GOP national conventions.
A member of the First Presbyterian Church, she was an elder and choir member, the couples class teacher for 50 years and an ardent prayer warrior. Among many affiliations, she was active in DAR, Haywood County Historical Soc., and the 8th Air Force Historical Soc. and served on the TN Historical Commission. Eleanor was a prodigious volunteer to better the lives of others through literacy, good government and mentoring others as a living civics lesson.
Her contagious creative spirit was revealed through her wonderful poems, a ragtime pounded out on the piano, self-taught artistry and the remarkable ability to slalom waterski from a seated start on the dock while keeping her hairstyle dry. The embodiment of a Proverbs 31 wife, Eleanor was more concerned about others than herself. Her children cannot recall that she ever uttered an unkind word. She was a cheerleader for life--a source of encouragement and wise counsel to many.
She was preceded in death by her parents and her beloved husband of 59 years. She is survived by son Dr. Robert Rooks (Debby) of Brownsville; daughters Willard Helander (Glenn Jarvi) of Wheaton, IL; Anne Rooks of Memphis; Carrie Sue Monroe of Miramar Beach, FL.
“Elly” will be greatly missed by her adoring grandchildren: William Dunaway Helander (Caroline) of Houston, TX; Emily Helander (Enrique Manzano) of Libertyville, IL; Eleanor Elizabeth Elmore (Scott) of Ocean Springs, MS; Rachel (Drew) Phillips of Jackson, TN; Morgan Monroe of Washington, DC; Meredith Monroe of Houston, TX; Addie and Baxter Jones of Memphis and nine great-grandchildren.
Those who loved Elly can best honor her by seeking the spirit of forgiveness that Jesus first gave us and reveal this by being kind, encouraging and of good cheer toward others. In lieu of flowers, please consider memorial gifts to Trinity Cemetery Assoc. c/o Mary Jane Baggett, 74 Tibbs-Forked Deer Rd, Brownsville, 38012 or Church Health, 1350 Concourse Ave., Ste. 142, Memphis, TN 38104.
All services and arrangements are under the direction of Lea & Simmons Funeral Home.