Hattie Jernigan (1918-2003)

by David Shannon

Hattie, named for her mother who died a few days after her birth, weighed only one and one half pounds at birth. Some thought she would be buried with her mother, but her grandmother declared “As long as there is breath in my body we will fight to save the baby.” They put her in a drawer surrounding it with heated bricks, found someone to nurse her and against all odds, she survived!

As a young woman, she married Ernest Keopf, bearing her only child, James. Ernest died of cancer when James was 12 years old. Hattie faithfully cared for him all during his illness. After his death she worked her way through Licensed Practical Nurses Training and began working at Baptist Hospital in Nashville. There she met a patient, Horace Jernigan, whom she later married. They were married twenty-five years before his death. Hattie faithfully served him during his two year illness.

Nursing was very important to Hattie. She was immaculate in her appearance from her starched caps down to her freshly washed shoe laces every day! She was also just as conscientious in her care for her patients!

James was very important to Hattie. She did everything she could to provide and guide her son in his youth. She was a strong and determined mother. She met Carol in the medical field and began to try to attract her interest in James and vice-versa. Finally, James and Carol met and 32 years later it has proven to be a great match!

Grandchildren were very important to Hattie. Jay, Chris, and Jeremy brought her much happiness. She enjoyed cooking everyone’s favorite dish, which resulted in a table full of everyone’s favorites! A sampling might be cornbread, banana pudding, green tomato chow chow, watermelon in her backyard, fried green tomatoes, and frozen chocolate cake to name a few of the favorites! She loved to give her grandchildren gifts, money, and care packages for college treks! She passed this same love on to her four great-grandchildren!

Generosity was important to Hattie. She lived through the depression never having a surplus of worldly possessions, but was always willing to share. Whether it was family, church, or community she always gave back!

Christ was important to Hattie. She adored her dad, “Pappy” who was a fine Christian man. She influenced both of her husbands to become Christians. Attending worship was the highlight of her week. Later in life when she was unable to attend worship she demanded an attendance report. In later years she moved to MJ to be near James and Carol. It is during this time she blessed our congregation by being here. The Keopf’s gratefully express their appreciation to the congregation for the love and support shown to Mrs. Hattie during the winter of her life. She loved receiving the calls, cards, and visits from her church family! We offer our sympathy and prayers to the Keopf’s.

A sister saint marches home! By faith in hope we gratefully rejoice!

For in this journey we all ought to march!