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Mary Edna Browne Hodge

Mrs. Mary Edna Browne Hodge passed away at her home in Lebanon, Tennessee on February 23, 2024.

Mary Edna was born October 22, 1935 to Robert and Florence (Trammell) Browne of Lebanon. Along with her parents, she was preceded in death by her loving husband Douglas, to whom she was married for 39 years, her brother, John Alexander Browne, and nephew Keith Edward Browne. She was also preceded by her many aunts and uncles, her cousin and lifelong friend Lillian Mai Reynolds, and best friends Sue (Mullins) Harrell and Agnes (Page) Hobson.

Mary Edna is survived by her children, Kerry Douglas (Brenda) and Phillip Russell (Shannon), and grandchildren, John Wesley and Caroline Joy, whom she adored. She is also survived by her sister-in-law and best friend, Nancy (Hodge) Davis, nephew Robert Browne, and nieces Jackie (Browne) Sullins and Virginia (Browne) Bousman.

Born at the old McFarland Hospital in Lebanon, Mary Edna grew up on a farm that her father purchased in 1912 and that she and her brother inherited. Aside from her family, there was nothing that she loved more than that farm. She often quoted her father, who once told her, “Sister, take care of the land, there won’t ever be any more of it.” She spent her life taking care of that farm and is proud to leave it to her children and grandchildren in that same spirit.

Mary Edna attended Lebanon High School, where she was a proud alum of the class of 1953 to whom she remained connected all her life. In her retirement, she attended weekly class breakfasts at Cracker Barrel with her classmates and served as treasurer for their annual reunions.

Mary Edna married Douglas Hodge in October 1953 and within weeks of making their new home together, Doug was drafted by the United States Army for service in the Korean War. After Doug completed basic training, Mary Edna followed him to stations at Fort Lee in Petersburg, Virginia and Fort Hood in Killeen, Texas. While living in Killeen, they met Otis and Betty Matthews of Gainesville, Georgia, who were also stationed at Fort Hood and who remained lifelong friends.

Mary Edna spent most of her professional life working in healthcare, first working as a secretary for Dr. Sam at McFarland Hospital. She later worked in home health and in 1969 moved to Newport, Tennessee where she and Doug were recruited to be administrators of a new hospital and nursing home. Following the Newport years, a short residence in Pigeon Forge, and the addition of new baby Phillip in 1974 and daughter-in-law Brenda in 1976, they once again returned to Lebanon, where they opened a small daycare on Sam Houston Drive and gained many more children, all of whom she loved and care for as her own. She loved nothing more than running into one of her daycare kids somewhere in town, now grown with their own families.

She returned to healthcare in 1983 shortly after University Medical Center opened as Lebanon’s then new hospital. She was hired as the Director of Medical Records, but also oversaw Quality Improvement, Risk Management, and credentialing of the medical staff. She made many friends during her twenty years at UMC, took chances on new college graduates giving them their first jobs, mentored her own staff and countless others at UMC, whom she saw as family. Long time friends and colleagues, Margaret Apple and Tom Keifer said “Mary was never too busy to lend a kind heart and listening ear, no matter how her day was going…Mother Mary was a friend to us all, a great mentor, very patient and kind.” She retired from UMC in 2001, but consulted part-time for several years before completely retiring to a non-stop schedule of gardening, antiques and estate sales, genealogy, and grand-parenting. For years, Mary Edna, Lillian, and her sister-in-law Nancy would gather each Friday to get their hair done, and travel all over Middle Tennessee and southern Kentucky to estate sales, new lunch spots, historic homes, and many other places.

Among Mary Edna’s many professional accomplishments, none were harder, nor meant more to her, than caring for a succession of ill family members until they too passed – her grandmother Mary, father Robert, mother Florence, her dear Aunts Myrtle and Helen, her husband Doug, and finally her cousin and lifelong Lillian.

Mary Edna spent the last decade of her life organizing more than a hundred years of family letters, cards, pictures, family trees, quilts and other materials. She referred to a converted bedroom in her house as “the archive.” Her work to organize and document her family’s history embodies so much of what was important to her – attention to detail, order, preparation, tradition. She was an archivist at heart and keeper of so many people, things, and stories, all of which will be missed in her own voice but that will live on in the many family, day care kids, hospital friends and colleagues, and records that she mothered and nurtured over her 88 years.

The last friend Mary Edna made was Jennifer Clemmons, who helped her family care for her in her final months. Despite the fog of dementia, Mary Edna learned to recognize Jennifer and referred to her on sight as “my Jennifer.” Their time together was short, but meaningful, and enriched Mary Edna’s life beyond measure.

Mary Edna described the time she followed Doug in the Army as the “longest and loneliest two years of her life.” She said she never felt happier than when they returned to Lebanon and when she was “heading down the lane to the farm.” Everyone will miss Mother Mary, but are reassured by the promise that she will never have to leave Lebanon, her farm, or family again.

Funeral services will be held on Tuesday February 27, 2024 at 1:00 PM from the Ligon & Bobo Funeral Home. Rev. Rebecca Gwynn-Dixon will officiate, and interment will follow in Cedar Grove Cemetery. Visitation will be Tuesday from 11:00 AM until service time at 1:00 PM. In lieu of flowers or food, the family requests that memorial donations be made to the Wilson County Archives (111 South College Street, Lebanon, Tennessee 37087).

LIGON & BOBO FUNERAL HOME, in charge of arrangements. (615) 444-2142


Messages for the Family

  1. Mary Jane Hollis says:
    I’ll always remember her sweet smile and loving personality. Our condolences to her family and friends. Rest in peace dear one.
  2. Laura Bartel says:
    My heart goes out to you Phil and family at the loss of your mother. May all your cherished memories of your kind and loving mother provide you with comfort today and always.
  3. Dottie Climer says:
    She was a blessing to me by taking care of my boys when they were small!
  4. Melba S. Jobe says:
  5. Angela Hatfield Thompson says:
    My brother and I were her “ daycare kids”. It was some of the best childhood memories I have. Ms.Mary and Mr. Doug were always so good to me and Wade. My deepest sympathies to the family.